Elderly patients often reported a high degree of satisfaction with their medical care, although they received suboptimal care almost half the time, according to a report being published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The results raise concerns about the tendency to treat patient satisfaction scores as a substitute for quality-of-care measures, the researchers said. In 1998 and 1999, the researchers interviewed 236 elderly patients, mostly white women, with an average age of 80, about their medical experience. The researchers subsequently compared the patients' responses to their medical records. Patients rated their satisfaction with their medical care an average of 8.9 on a 10-point scale. A review of medical records, however, indicated that the patients received the recommended care only 55% of the time. The researchers concluded that patient satisfaction ratings do not reflect the actual quality of care delivered and should not be used as a marker for technical quality. The study was funded by Pfizer and conducted by researchers from RAND Health, University of California-Los Angeles and the Veterans Affairs Department. -- by Andis Robeznieks
Patients often satisfied with suboptimal care: study
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