Patient satisfaction is on everyone’s minds in 2011 as we face the prospect that these scores will start to affect reimbursement. Senior leadership is paying more attention than ever before and will turn to the nursing department to ask, “What are we doing about patient satisfaction?”
Trouble is, mention patient satisfaction to a group of nurses and you’re likely to be greeted by groans and eye rolling. Nursing staff already have so many tasks to complete they don’t want new ones added to their already overstretched days. When administrators say to put patient satisfaction high on the priority list, nurses counter that delivering care and keeping their patients safe is far more important. A hospital is not a luxury hotel after all, and many unpleasant things happen to patients while in the hospital. By definition, no one should enjoy their stay.
What these conversations often miss, however, is that nurses are already doing the things that make the difference in patient satisfaction. When they hold the hand of a frightened, hurting patient in the middle of the night; when they explain a complex treatment regimen in a way the patient understands; when they change a dressing with care and tenderness; when they crack a joke that makes a patient laugh.
I was reminded of this when reading Dana Jennings post on The New York Times’ Well blog last week called “In Praise of Nurses.” Jennings writes that throughout his lengthy hospitalizations, it was nurses who he liked most.