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When rankings are unfounded

Jun. 8, 2020, 8:00 AM

by Paul Govern


Patient satisfaction survey scores are not an appropriate metric to differentiate performance among anesthesiologists — that’s the title and gist of a study in the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia by Robert Freundlich, MD, Gen Li, MS, Jonathan Wanderer, MD, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

The study shows that certain variables tend to skew patient responses regarding the quality of care received. Younger patients and patients who’ve received regional anesthesia (as opposed to general anesthesia) tend to give higher scores to their attending anesthesiologists, while patients whose procedures are performed at night tend to give lower scores.  

Adjusting for these variables renders scores meaningless for all but a few anesthesiologists performing at extreme ends of the satisfaction scale. 

The researchers analyzed 10,528 surveys with a 50% response rate. The questionnaire is used by approximately one in four U.S. anesthesiologists. 

There are many good reasons to survey anesthesiology patient satisfaction but ranking individual clinicians isn’t one of them, the authors conclude.

Other authors on the study include Brendan Grant, Paul St. Jacques, MD, Warren Sandberg, MD, PhD, Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, and Matthew Shotwell, PhD. The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (TR002245).

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