'Told' is the word most linked to negative hospital reviews on Yelp

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When looking at hospital reviews on Yelp, researchers found the word most associated with negative reviews, including those with one-star ratings, was "told," a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found.

The researchers, from Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine, analyzed 51,376 reviews for 1,566 U.S. hospitals and found the word "told" appeared in 20 percent of the posts (9,578 in total). Reviews that included the word "told" averaged 1.78 stars out of five stars.

The one-star reviews the researchers saw that contained "told" highlighted frustrations about information that was ostensibly shared ("They never told me the cost of any of the procedures"), anger at a lack of listening ("I told her I did not want to discuss it any more but she persisted to badger me") and feelings of futility ("Some examined me and told me there was nothing they could do for me").

"Oftentimes, words such as 'told' hint at a breakdown in communication," Anish Agarwal, MD, a National Clinician Scholars fellow and emergency medicine physician at Penn Medicine, said in a news release. "I suspect that patients are not feeling listened to or heard and this could be driving poor experiences and low reviews."

For the positive hospital reviews, the word "friendly" was found in about 11 percent of them (5,594 in all). Along with the word "great," "friendly" correlated the most with five-star reviews. In these reviews, patients often focused on hospital staff's demeanor and attentiveness ("The entire staff was very friendly and made sure we were taken care of").

"Patients value communication highly in their overall experience when they're in the hospital," Dr. Agarwal said. "As healthcare transitions to being more patient-centered, I think hospitals and providers need to continue to work on how we improve communication, how we listen and how we approach all patient interactions."

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