New Research: Hospitals with Better Patient-Provider Communication have Better Patient Safety and Satisfaction Rates

Share Article

HealthGrades report identifies top U.S. hospitals for patient safety and patient experience.

Communication's impact on patient safety

HealthGrades Infographic

A new report on patient safety and satisfaction rates in hospitals across the United States finds that hospitals with the highest patient ratings in physician and nursing communications on average have fewer patient safety events. The analysis of patient safety data for hospitalizations between 2008 and 2010 was conducted by HealthGrades, the leading provider of information to help consumers make an informed decision about a physician or hospital.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • 15% more overall patient safety events occurred in hospitals performing in the bottom 10% for physician communication, compared to those in the top 10%
  • 27% more overall patient safety events occurred in hospitals performing in the bottom 10% for nursing communication, compared to the top 10%
  • 13% more patients at hospitals performing in the top 10% for patient satisfaction reported they received instructions on what to do when they left the hospital, compared to the bottom 10% – key guidance that underscores the importance of communication

HealthGrades conducted the analysis as part of its process for identifying the HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ and HealthGrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award™ recipients. This year, 263 hospitals received the Patient Safety Excellence Award, 332 received the Outstanding Patient Experience Award, and 47 were recipients of both.

“We have reached a point where Americans must acknowledge the connection between communicating with their healthcare provider and their own safety and satisfaction as patients,” said Kristin Reed, MPH, HealthGrades Vice President of clinical quality programs and author of the study. “Our research revealed some shocking disconnects. For example, catheter-related bloodstream infections occurred about 56% more frequently in hospitals with poor nursing or physician communication. Encounters with the healthcare system can be complex and intimidating. Our goal is to empower patients to ask their providers questions, and to help patients feel comfortable by providing information that will help them achieve their best health.”

To identify the 2012 Outstanding Patient Experience Award recipients, HealthGrades analyzed HCAHPS hospital survey data obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from April 2010 to March 2011. Award recipients performed in the top 10% in the nation for patient satisfaction, based on survey responses from patients treated at those facilities. Hospitals had to meet bed size, survey-response size, and clinical-quality thresholds to be eligible for the award.

To identify the best-performing hospitals in patient safety, which represent the top 5% of all U.S. hospitals and this year’s Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients, HeathGrades analyzed approximately 40 million Medicare hospitalizations in 5,000 hospitals from 2008 to 2010. The analysis was conducted using a method developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to calculate event rates for 13 indicators of patient safety.

HealthGrades identified the implications of patient-provider communication on patient safety by grouping hospitals in three groups according to their HCAHPS patient satisfaction survey results, and then comparing the average patient safety scores for these groups. The groups were: the 10% that received the highest ratings in patient satisfaction, the 10% that received the lowest ratings, and the middle 80%.

Additional key findings:

  • In analyzing patient safety from 2008 to 2010, HealthGrades found:

     o 254,000 patient safety events among Medicare patients could have been prevented
     o 56,367 Medicare patients who died experienced one or more of these events
     o Patients at hospitals receiving the HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award were 48% less likely to experience a patient safety event, compared to those in the bottom 5%

  • When compared to hospitals performing in the bottom 10% for patient satisfaction, hospitals receiving the HealthGrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award had:

o 50% more patients give them an overall rating of 9 or 10
o    27% more patients report that staff always explained their medication prior to administration
o    52% more patients report they would definitely recommend the hospital to their family or friends

The full report, “Patient Safety and Satisfaction: The State of American Hospitals,” and a list of the award recipients are available for free at

HealthGrades Hospital Ratings
To be included, hospitals must have met minimum thresholds in terms of patient volumes, quality ratings, and the range of services provided. HealthGrades hospital ratings are independently created; no hospital can opt in or opt out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated. Individuals may compare their local hospitals online and find additional information about the ratings methodology at

About HealthGrades
HealthGrades, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is a leading provider of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. More than 200 million consumers use the HealthGrades websites, including and, to research, select, and connect with a physician or hospital, and use its comprehensive information about clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, patient safety, and health conditions to make more informed healthcare decisions and take action.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

MacLean Guthrie
Follow us on