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BC publicizes results of inpatient experience survey

VICTORIA – British Columbia is posting the results of its first-ever study of inpatient experiences in acute care hospitals. Almost 92 per cent of survey respondents rated the quality of their overall care as good, very good or excellent.

It should be noted, however, that over half of the patients who were sent a survey did not respond. Inpatients are people who have been admitted to an acute care hospital, typically for at least one overnight stay.

The survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and health authorities and conducted by NRC (National Research Corporation) Canada, was done between Sept. 30, 2005 and April 15, 2006. Surveys were sent to medical, surgical, maternity or pediatric inpatients and examined their experiences across eight care dimensions. It included additional questions on maternity and pediatric care. A total of 23,185 inpatients responded to the survey, which was mailed to a total of 47,460 people.

The province of British Columbia will spend $1 million annually between 2004 and 2009 to monitor patient experiences on a recurring basis in key areas. The findings will be used as a baseline to measure progress on ensuring British Columbians continue to receive high quality care.

According to a B.C. Ministry of Health press release, medical/surgical inpatients gave high ratings to:

• courtesy of admissions staff, nurses and physicians (94.7 %, 93.2 % and 95.3 % respectively); and

• timeliness of response after pushing a call button (96.3%).

According to the Ministry of Health news release, a total of 95.6 % of medical/surgical inpatients did not suffer injury from error. (The release did not say whether the other 4.4%, or 1,020 inpatients, suffered an injury through medical error.)

Maternity inpatients were most satisfied with their overall care (93.3%) and with receiving a post-discharge home visit from a registered nurse (98.7%). They also expressed satisfaction with the flexibility of care providers in allowing family members to visit (95.3%) and with overall physician care (96.4%).

Pediatric inpatients and their families felt they were welcome to stay with their child as much as they wanted (91.2%). A total of 91.4% were satisfied with the overall care received and close to 90% (88.4%) were satisfied with the way in which physicians and nurses worked together.

Opportunities for improvement included:

• Providing inpatients with more information about when to resume their normal activities (only 47.6% were satisfied they received adequate advice);

• giving inpatients more say in their treatment (53.8% satisfaction rate); and

• improving food quality (48.6% of responses were positive).

• Inpatients also wanted more information on danger signals to watch for after discharge (only 55.7% were satisfied with the information they received), while many would have preferred to talk more with a nurse about fears and anxieties about their treatment (54.2% positive response).

The survey defines inpatients as anyone admitted to an acute care hospital, typically for at least one overnight stay. Overall, the survey has a + or – 0.64 % sampling error at the 95 % confidence level, meaning the results are accurate 19 times out of 20.

The survey excluded some inpatients, such as those who had day surgery, newborns (under 10 days old), people with no fixed address, those who had a still birth and other sensitive cases.

More information can be found on the Province’s website at