Anxiety over patient safety and the overall quality of healthcare in America's hospitals is on the rise, as are healthcare costs and malpractice litigation. Along with specific patient-care initiatives set forth by the Bush administration, nonprofit organizations formed by physicians, patients and hospitals have begun to address the need for improving patient safety. (For data on patient satisfaction with hospital safety procedures, please see the link to "Fatal Admissions: Are Patients Safe?" at right.)
Though the barriers to improvement may seem overwhelming for the nation's hospitals, there are signs of confidence among those who work in hospitals every day. In response to a study conducted by Gallup for Surgical Information Systems*, operating room directors who work in hospitals nationwide reported high confidence levels in the quality of care provided in the hospitals where they work, such that only 14% reported they would recommend going to a hospital other than their own. Eighty-four percent (84%) responded that they would send sick family members to their own hospitals, rather than to a different hospital in the same community.
Not surprisingly, hospitals with higher budgets instill more confidence. At hospitals where total budgets equaled $3 million or more, 93% of operating room directors recommended the hospital where they work over any other in the area. By comparison, only 77% of operating room directors who worked in hospitals with much lower budgets of less than $1 million had more confidence in their own hospital's quality of care than in any others.
*Results are based in 401 telephone interviews with a national sample of operating room directors during the period of Oct. 12 to Nov. 10, 2000. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be ±5%.