Satisfaction guaranteed?


We were interested to read Wilkinson and Slater’s correspondence regarding their use of the Heidelberg Peri-anaesthetic Questionnaire at Northampton Hospital [1]. We have found the translated English version of this questionnaire to be cumbersome, so set about devising a patient anaesthesia satisfaction survey of our own.

Development of the questionnaire involved the hospital Patient Advice and Liaison Service Department, questionnaire review panels, repeat pilot studies and compliance with ethical guidance relating to audit/patient feedback questionnaires. In its final formulation, the questionnaire contained 21 questions with binary, yes/no answers, relating to pre-operative and pre-anaesthetic assessment, theatre care and postoperative recovery. We surveyed 167 adult elective general and day surgery cases, during a two-week period in June 2011.

The response rate was 47%, and all questionnaires were filled in on a voluntary basis. Feedback was mainly positive: 95% of patients rated the anaesthetic service they received as above average or excellent; 96% of patients felt that the anaesthetist gave them understandable information; and 97% felt that (s)he had reassured them peri-operatively. However, 30% of patients having a regional block in the anaesthetic room found it uncomfortable, 43% wanted more information about the complications of regional anaesthesia, and only 60% felt they had benefitted from regional nerve blocks. Although 95% of patients felt they benefited postoperatively from good intra-operative anti-emesis strategies, 31% had experienced pain on waking, of whom 98% had their pain promptly addressed by the recovery nurses. Only 39% of patients remember being visited postoperatively by an anaesthetist.

The comments section of the survey highlighted other themes including patients’ dislike for being anaesthetised in the operating theatre, greater satisfaction with admission to hospital closer to the time of their operation (when possible) and appreciation of being allowed a small drink of water if likely to be waiting more than two hours.

We consider that our questionnaire is a useful and reproducible tool for measuring patient satisfaction. Dissemination of survey information and recommendations is ongoing, and should inform future service improvements. We plan to validate the survey among other hospitals in southern England, and would be happy to share the questionnaire with other anaesthetists.