When is the best time to ask my patients for feedback?

This case study will help if you:

  • work in anaesthetics and/or
  • see patients once or briefly and are unsure when to approach them for feedback
  • see patients who might not be able to complete a feedback questionnaire themselves (such as young children).

Key points to consider           

  • It’s important to reflect on patient feedback for revalidation, even if you only see patients briefly.
  • Adapt the way you collect feedback to get responses from a representative sample of patients, for example, by considering the most appropriate time to ask for their feedback.
  • If your patient is unable to give feedback, for example because of their age, you can ask a family member or carer to respond on their behalf. However, you should first check whether reasonable adjustments can be made to the process to allow the patient to respond (such as a questionnaire in another format).
  • Don’t collect or collate feedback responses yourself, or ask your responsible officer or appraiser to do this. Use an independent provider to process your feedback and give you a personalised report of your results (unless your organisation arranges this for you).
  • If you want to use a specialty-specific questionnaire to gather feedback discuss this with your employer or responsible officer. For example, the Royal College of Anaesthetists has developed a patient feedback form for doctors working in anaesthetics.

Scenario

Dr Chaudry is a Consultant Anaesthetist. He works in a large teaching hospital, another NHS hospital and two private hospitals.

His patients are a mix of adults and children undergoing ear nose and throat, gynaecology and orthopaedic surgery.

He struggles to ask for feedback as his patients are asleep during most of his contact with them. Around a third of his patients are young children who would struggle to fill in a standard feedback questionnaire.

He works as part of a large team and is concerned that his patients might not be able to identify him from other members of the wider team.

How the doctor met our requirements

Dr Chaudry identified an adequate number and appropriate range of patients to ask for feedback across the four hospitals where he works.

He gave feedback forms to his patients when they were on the ward, before going into the operating theatre. This made it easier for the patient to identify him and to understand the request.

As about a third of his patients are children Dr Chaudry approached their parents, who were able to give him feedback on behalf of their children. (Ideally forms should not be handed out by the doctor, so that patients feel more comfortable to give an honest response.)

He arranged for a nurse to collect the completed feedback forms from patients in an anonymised bundle.

The completed forms were sent to an independent survey provider used by all doctors at his trust, to process the forms and provide him with a personalised report of his results on which to reflect.

Dr Chaudry was able to obtain enough feedback to achieve reliable results. The survey provider sent him a summary report that compared his results with those of other doctors in the same specialty, who had used the same questionnaire.

He was pleased to find that the scores and comments he received from his patients and their family members were overwhelmingly positive.

Useful link

The Royal College of Anaesthetists, Revalidation and CPD guidance