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It is better but still bad – assessment of Polish hospitals by Poles

Helpful and committed nurses but no respect for dignity and intimacy. Effective treatment but terrible or even no psychological support. Ensured sense of security but too difficult and convoluted language of doctors. Plus stuffy patient rooms and cold meals. This is how Poles assess the quality of hospital care in Poland. The latest report of the Healthcare Quality Monitoring Centre (CMJ) includes opinions of over 54,000 patients treated in a total of 134 Polish hospitals.

The PASAT OPEN 2022* survey shows that the vast majority of patients (80%) think that their hospital stay was effective, i.e. improved their health (although 7% of patients strongly disagree with this statement). At the same time, 88% of respondents would recommend the facility they stayed at to others. The authors of the report point out, however, that the assessment in this regard varied depending on the hospital – some hospitals were assessed positively by 100% of respondents but there were those that received significantly lower marks.

Even more respondents (because as many as 92%) had no reservations regarding the observance of patient rights. It is worth noting, however, that the “missing” 8% mean that at least some respondents admitted that such violations took place. When asked for details, they indicated that the violations most often concerned the right to intimacy, respect for dignity and contact with loved ones. Such areas were indicated by 4% of patients.

Another assessed area was the degree of pain relief that accompanied the hospital stay. Here the marks are not so unambiguous. Although every fifth patient did not feel such pain, every third rated it as greater than “5” (on a scale of 0-10) and almost every tenth felt the intensity of pain during hospitalisation at the highest level (“9” and “10” ). At the same time, three thirds of patients confirm that the medics tried to alleviate the pain, only 7% of patients deny it.

Nurses – helpful and committed

As for medical staff, nurses were assessed most positively – 80% of respondents gave them the highest mark (“5”), three thirds of respondents (75%) gave such a mark to doctors and slightly more, i.e. 77%, to physiotherapists. Negative marks for any representatives of the hospital staff were rare – they were given by only 3-4% of patients.

The survey included also questions about communication between patients and the medical staff. Most respondents assessed it positively, although, some answers suggest that it leaves much to be desired. 6% of patients indicate, for instance, that they did not understand what the doctor told them, while 8% resent the fact that decisions about their treatment and care were made without them, without taking into consideration their wishes.

As the authors of the report emphasise, communication between patients and those taking care of them is one of the key elements of good care. “Doctors are often reproached for their hermetic and incomprehensible language. In addition, proper understanding of the message is critical to achieving good treatment outcomes.” Although the group of patients dissatisfied with this communication is in the minority, the question remains: “What are the reasons for these negative responses.”

Despite the positive assessment of conversations with doctors about health and planned therapy, patients are not satisfied with the psychological support that they received or, more often, that they did not receive. Every fifth patient (22%) admitted that they felt depressed during hospitalisation. The people who most often helped patients during this difficult time were nurses – 39% of respondents indicated the possibility of talking to them.

93% of patients felt safe in the hospital, although, it is worth noting that as many as one in ten did not know who to contact if they had questions or doubts about their care or treatment.

Conditions in the hospital still leave much to be desired

Last but not least, patients commented on the conditions of care provided in the hospital. Here, the generally positive tone of the responses is clearly noticeable (as many as 70% of patients had no remarks about the conditions of the hospital stay). However, there were things that bothered them.

The problem that bothers patients the most is the high air temperature in the rooms and the lack of fresh air – 10% of respondents noted stuffiness in the patient rooms. The cleanliness of the bathrooms and rest conditions were also questioned.

As for the meals served in the hospital, the majority of respondents did not raise any objections but those who spoke negatively about them pointed to the same problems over and over again: no choice of meals (19%), too small portions (11%) and too cold food (10%).

* The survey was conducted in the form of an electronic questionnaire filled in directly before the patient’s discharge from the hospital or after their return home. The data was collected between
1st January and 31st December 2022 and covered 54,000 respondents. 383 online questionnaires were obtained from 134 hospitals. Based on the results, the key areas were assessed and a set of indicators was created in the following areas: medical care, nursing care, physiotherapist care, staff communication, care safety, conditions of stay and hospital recommendations.

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