Call Me Maybe? ER Patients Say Yes, Please

Posted by BestPractices on February 27 2013

Feb 26, 2013

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Emergency patients who received follow-up phone calls or emails from their emergency physicians were more satisfied with their emergency department experience than those who were not contacted. The results of patient satisfaction surveys completed by more than 1,000 patients are reported online yesterday in Annals of Emergency Medicine (“Physician Email and Telephone Contact after Emergency Department Visit Improves Patient Satisfaction: A Crossover Trial”)

“The benefits of higher patient satisfaction range from better patient compliance with discharge instructions to higher staff morale,” said lead study author Pankaj Patel, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Roseville, Calif.  “Contacting patients after they leave the ER may also improve transitions of care, which is a growing focus for emergency physicians. A quick follow-up with our patients may help reduce return visits to the ER and readmission to the hospital.”

For one month, 42 emergency physicians either emailed or telephoned their patients within 72 hours of being discharged from the ER. The subsequent month, physicians provided no follow-up contact. The average satisfaction score given by the 348 patients who received follow-up contact was 87.7 percent. The average satisfaction score for the 1,002 patients who received no follow-up contact was 79.4 percent.

Higher patient satisfaction was observed equally among all patients contacted by email and those contacted by telephone. Physicians preferred using post-ED visit email contact over telephone contact because email contact took less time (2.2 minutes for email vs. 3.6 minutes for telephone).

“Our top priority is to give excellent care to our patients, but if we can increase their satisfaction with that care, that may lead to better outcomes in the long term,” said Dr. Patel. “A brief conversation outside the rushed and stressful environment of the ER between patient and physician can significantly improve the patient’s impression of their experience. Higher patient satisfaction correlates to better patient compliance and lower risk of medical liability. Everybody wins.”

Annals of Emergency Medicine is the peer-reviewed scientific journal for the American College of Emergency Physicians, the national medical society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research, and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies. For more information visit

SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

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