Being rushed into hospital care can be an emotional experience. So, what a surgeon says to trauma or emergency surgery patients plays a role in how satisfied they are after their operations, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 187,000 patients discharged from 168 HCA Healthcare hospitals in the United States in 2018 and 2019. HCA Healthcare is a publicly traded company based in Nashville, Tenn.

The goal was to determine how several factors — including interactions with nurses and doctors — contributed to satisfaction ratings in five patient categories: trauma; elective surgery; emergency surgery; emergency medical; and elective medical.

“Nurses uniformly come out as the most highly ranked, and that’s because they provide wonderful bedside care and have so much contact with the patients,” said study author Dr. Samir Fakhry, vice president of HCA Healthcare’s Center for Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Research.

“But in the case of the trauma patients, and to a lesser degree the emergency surgical patients, physician communication ranked as the number two factor,” Fakhry added.

Among trauma and emergency surgery patients, physician communication had a significant impact on overall satisfaction after nursing factors were accounted for, representing a 12% increase in the former and an 8.6% increase in the latter group, the researchers found.

Among elective surgery and medical admission patients, physician communication didn’t even rank as a third or fourth factor, the study authors said in a news release from the American College of Surgeons.

“There’s something about the way the trauma surgeons are delivering their care that is an important driver of the satisfaction scoring that is provided by our patients,” Fakhry said.

The study was published online Jan. 29 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

“The things trauma surgeons and the people around them are doing seem to be very important to their patients,” Fakhry said. “For many people in hospital leadership, the trauma service is an important mission of the hospital, but they wouldn’t expect the trauma service to contribute very much to a positive patient experience because we’re dealing with injured people. However, this study shows trauma care has a significant impact on hospital ratings.”

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SOURCE: American College of Surgeons, news release, Jan. 29, 2021