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  6. When is the best time to ask my patients for feedback

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 children).

Key points to consider           

  • It’s important to collect and 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 because of their age, you can ask a family member or carer to respond on their behalf. However, you should not use this as a default for patients who can respond themselves if reasonable adjustments are made to the process (such as a questionnaire in alternative formats).
  • Don’t collect or collate feedback responses yourself, or ask your responsible officer or appraiser to do it. Use an independent survey provider to process your feedback and give you a personalised report of your results (your employing organisation may arrange).
  • If you want to use a specialty-specific questionnaire to gather feedback you should 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 use 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 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 sufficient feedback to allow him to compare his results with those of other doctors in the same specialty using the same questionnaire.

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

Useful link

The Royal College of Anaesthetists, Revalidation and CPD guidance