Ability of Patients to Identify Their Attending Physician: An Academic Medical Center Study

Aram A. Namavar, Amanda H. Loftin, Sajan H. Shah, Christopher D. Hamad

Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), CA, USA


Introduction: It is of utmost importance that patients are able to identify their attending physicians. There is a paucity of data in this area, particularly in teaching hospitals that have protocols for physician and staff communication with patients and their families.  In order to optimize the patient experience, more research is needed on physician performance and patient satisfaction. Little is known about hospitalized patients’ ability to identify their attending physician. This paper evaluates the rates of patient identification of their attending physician in surgical and non-surgical specialties.

Methods: A total of 15,828 surveys, spanning September 2010 to June 2013, were assessed. This included patient representation from 9 departments within UCLA Health.  Of these, 6,473 interviews were conducted among patients admitted to surgical specialty service lines while 9,355 interviews were conducted among patients admitted to non-surgical specialty service lines. Statistical comparisons were made using the student’s t-test and evaluated for variance using the ANOVA test.                                          

Results: It was determined that significantly (p<0.001) more patients in surgical specialty service lines were able to positively identify their attending physician than patients admitted to non-surgical specialty service lines; 65.7% and 35.7%, respectively.

Conclusions: It is plausible that a greater percentage of surgical specialty patients can identify their attending physician because the attending is often the physician performing the operation. These results suggest that measures should be undertaken in order to improve patient identification of their attending physicians, which may also improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes. Journal of Nature and Science, 1(4):e62, 2015.

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