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New moms judge care by perceived adequacy
The days of "drive-through deliveries" — discharging women within 24 hours of giving birth — are over, ever since 1996 legislation required that insurers cover a postpartum length of stay (LOS) of up to 48 hours for an uncomplicated delivery. But how satisfied are women with their stay, regardless of its length?
Researchers supported by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research in Silver Spring, MD, looked into that question and administered a post-discharge survey to 15,000 women admitted for labor and delivery to 18 hospitals over a three-year period. They found that a woman’s perception of the adequacy of her hospital stay, not the actual LOS, affects her satisfaction with care.1 Satisfaction scores were higher for patients who felt their stay was "just right" and lower among those who perceived it as being " too short" or "too long."
Patients who perceived their stays as inadequate or unnecessary reported that they were dissatisfied with six aspects of their care:
• physician care;
• nursing care;
• provision of information;
• preparation for discharge;
• overall assessment of care;
• willingness to return to the hospital.
Women who had vaginal deliveries and stayed one day were less apt to say their stay was adequate. Those who stayed two days or longer perceived better care. Women who stayed for two or three days following cesarean deliveries were less happy with their care than those who stayed four or more days.
1. Finkelstein BS, Harper DL, Rosenthal GE. Does length of hospital stay during labor and delivery influence patient satisfaction? Results from a regional study. American Journal of Managed Care 1998; 4:1,701-1,708.