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Patients happy with ‘very good’ care in emergency departments

Almost 16,000 NSW emergency department patients were surveyed about their experiences during 2017–18, with 88 per cent or nearly nine in 10 patients rating their experience as ‘very good’ (59 per cent) or ‘good’ (29 per cent).

This is down slightly from the previous year where ‘very good’ rated at 62 per cent. The percentage of people who would ‘speak highly’ of the care they received if asked by friends and family was also down from 72 to 70 per cent.

Australian Government data shows that approximately $2.7 million people go through NSW emergency departments per year, and this survey – released by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) – provides insight into how patients feel they are being treated.

Patients gave positive feedback when asked how medical professionals treated them generally, with eight in 10 participants saying they were “always” treated with respect and dignity.

BHI chief executive Dr Diane Watson said that the findings reflect well on current care practices, but also show room for improvement.

“Around eight in 10 patients said emergency department professionals always explained things in a way they could understand.”

“Around seven in 10 patients (72 per cent) said they definitely felt involved in decisions about their discharge, down from 76 per cent in the previous year’s survey, while a similar percentage of patients (71 per cent) felt they were definitely given enough information to manage their care at home,” Watson said.

“When we look across the state, we see considerable differences in the results for individual emergency departments throughout the state. These results present a great opportunity for healthcare providers to learn from what their patients are telling us and identify areas where there are opportunities to improve.”

Elsewhere, 83 per cent or respondents said healthcare professionals were ‘always’ kind and caring, while 9 per cent reported at least one problem or complication at an emergency department or shortly after, the most common being infection (3 per cent).

The groups least likely to describe their care as ‘very good’ were those aged 18-34, those where English is not the language spoken in the home and females.

Of the 459 Aboriginal patients surveyed, only five in 10 rated care as ‘very good’ as did those who reported a long standing mental health condition.

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