Researchers matched the medical records and completed surveys of 4,749 patients seen in the ERs of two New England hospitals to determine if there is a link between the amount of opioids administered in the ER and Press Ganey core measures—one of the most commonly used metrics for measuring patient satisfaction, according to the study authors. They also factored in other variables such as medication order, health insurance status, time of arrival to the ER, total length of stay and patient-reported pain levels. The researchers did not find any association between prescribing opioids and patient satisfaction scores.

“Based on these findings the administration of opioids in the emergency department setting does not make patients more satisfied,” said study author Kavita Babu, MD, in a press release.

Administering opioids in the ER is a challenge to physicians because of the time constraints, concerns about safety and lack of familiarity with the patient, according to the researchers. However, because compensation is linked to patient satisfaction scores in some hospital settings, some physicians might feel pressured to prescribe opioids to keep these scores up.

“In conferences and settings where we teach physicians about responsible opioid prescribing, one of the obstacles frequently mentioned is patient satisfaction, and the idea that physicians might be chastised or receive less compensation because their patient satisfaction scores are low,” said Dr. Babu, associate professor of emergency medicine and director of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

The researchers concluded that other factors such as wait time and physician and nurse communication may play a greater role in determining patient satisfaction. They suggested physicians should not worry about negative Press Ganey scores and administer pain medication based on clinical and patient factors.

“This suggests that emergency physicians should act in the best interest of the patient when deciding whether to prescribe or administer opioids,” said Dr. Babu.

Press Ganey was not involved with this study.

—AN Staff

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Patient Satisfaction and Opiods

Patient Satisfaction and Opiods