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Hospital Stay May Improve When Doctor Takes Time to Connect

When patients know a little bit about their caregiver, they report more satisfaction with their care

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- There seems to be an easy way to improve a patient's hospital stay: People are more satisfied with their care if they know who their doctor is and a couple of facts about that caregiver, a new study finds.

Between 82 percent and 90 percent of hospital patients are unable to name their treating physician, according to researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The investigators tested how having increased knowledge about their doctors affected patients' satisfaction with their care. Cards offering some details about their doctors were given to 100 patients in the orthopedic trauma division, while 112 patients did not receive these "biosketch" cards.

The patients had similar types of injuries, insurance and levels of education. The study included all six doctors in the orthopedic trauma division.

The patients were contacted within two weeks after being discharged from the hospital. The satisfaction scores of patients who received the biosketch cards were 22 percent higher than those of patients who were not given the cards, according to the study, which was published online Oct. 28 in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma.

"I think, in general, people recover better when they are more comfortable with the care they are receiving," Dr. Alex Jahangir, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, said in a university news release.

"This is an easy, cheap intervention," Jahangir said. "As health care reimbursement shifts to reward quality rather than quantity, it is important to identify ways to improve the patient experience. This intervention is literally something that doesn't even cost a nickel but improves a patient's experience, and hopefully their recovery -- metrics that matter not only to the institution, but also to patients and their physicians."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers patients advice about talking with their doctor.


SOURCE: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, news release, Oct. 31, 2013

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