Hospitality trumps care quality in patient surveys, study finds

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Neither care quality nor patient survival rates have a significant effect on patient satisfaction ratings, according to a study published in the journal Social Forces.

"Hospitality experiences create a halo effect of patient goodwill, while medical excellence and patient safety do not," the study authors wrote.

Researchers examined CMS data on patient satisfaction, death rates and care quality for more than 3,000 hospitals between 2007 and 2010.

They found that patient satisfaction scores for hospitals with the highest death rates were only 2 percentage points lower than scores for at hospitals with the lowest death rates.

They also found that patients are more likely to take into consideration the visible "room and board" aspects of care when deciding satisfaction scores. For example, quiet rooms had a larger effect on patient satisfaction than care quality.

Additionally, nurses' interpersonal skills, including their responsiveness and compassion, not their technical medical skills, played a far larger role in patient satisfaction.

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