Unreliable ER patient surveys prompt overhaul

B.C. health officials are working on new patient experience surveys after doctors found data from previous surveys to be unreliable.

As stories about emergency room misfortunes continue to surface, B.C. health officials don’t accurately know how frequently people leave their local ER content with their treatment.

Work is under way to change that, but results from a redeveloped patient survey won’t be known for at least another six months.

Since the beginning of the year, The News and other media outlets have reported multiple stories of people with serious complaints about how their cases were handled in emergency rooms in Abbotsford and other communities served by Fraser Health. Statistics show the Abbotsford Regional Hospital continues to battle congestion issues, with at times dozens of admitted patients waiting in the ER for a bed elsewhere in the hospital. But there’s currently no reliable indicator of just how satisfied emergency room patients are.

Fraser Health did once try to measure the satisfaction of emergency room patients, and those measures were publicly noted in regular report cards.

But Neil Barclay, an emergency physician and regional medical director for emergency medicine in Fraser Health, told The News in February that those surveys have substantial flaws and produced untrustworthy data.

“They don’t do them anymore because their methodology was really bad,” Barclay said. The surveys only sampled a small number of English-speaking patients several months after they visited the emergency room. That resulted in results that couldn’t be relied upon to make decisions.

“One month you’d see the satisfaction be 63 per cent and the next month it would be 92,” he said. “I don’t make anything of [the numbers], because they don’t make any sense.

“We all want patient satisfaction scores but the fact is, the way they were doing it didn’t provide us with useful information.”

B.C. health officials have been working on a new survey, but the process has encountered delays, with additional questions pushing back the project’s completion date, according to a January Fraser Health document.

Baseline surveys are expected to begin in April and will take place over the next six months. Data will be analyzed, and then provided to health officials “shortly thereafter,” according to a Fraser Health spokesperson.

In February, Barclay said there’s a hunger for data among those hoping to improve health care. And he said a more scientific procedure for surveying patients will finally give doctors the reassurance that the numbers tell an accurate story.

“We can look at that data and say, oh here’s how we’re actually doing at the site,” he said of the redeveloped survey. “That data I will trust.”




Just Posted

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Arrest warrant issued for Langley City man

David Main is wanted on numerous charges including obstructing an officer

Langley RCMP seek man wanted for drug charges

David Main was last seen living in Langley City.

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Pellet gun prompts Langley RCMP to respond

A report of a firearm drew a large number of officers to Langley City.

VIDEO: Hundreds line up at Langley farm for pancakes and a chance to help

The 14th annual Krause Berry Farm breakfast with Santa raised almost $4,700.

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

Be ladder safe both at work and home

WorkSafeBC wants you to keep safe while hanging those Christmas lights this year

Cold weather shelter too full, buses homeless to other communities

The Gateway of Hope shelter has had send some people to other shelters as they ran out of room.

B.C. overdose deaths surpass 1,200

96 people died of illicit drug overdoses in October

Feds agree to give provinces 75 per cent of pot tax revenues

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement today

Red Scorpion associates cuffed in drug-trafficking bust

Kamloops RCMP lay charges in connection to Red Scorpion drug trafficking ring

BC Ferries adds extra sailings for Christmas

More than 175 sailings are being added, including 130 between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

Most Read