Knowledge and Opinions Regarding Care Provided at Teaching Hospitals Among Ophthalmology Patients at an Academic Medical Center

Taylor Brueseke, Ingrid U. Scott, MD, MPH, and Allen R. Kunselman, MA

Abstract

Purpose: To determine 1) patients’ level of knowledge regarding the physician training hierarchy and 2) patients’ opinions regarding trainee-provided care in the ophthalmology outpatient clinic of an academic medical center.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey including 288 patients who presented to the Penn State Hershey Eye Center in April 2008. Consecutive patients who presented to the Eye Center were asked, by front desk office staff upon check-in, to selfadminister a written survey and return the survey to the office staff prior to check-out. Patients were assured that their responses would remain anonymous and have no impact on their medical care. Frequencies and percentages were summarized for the survey questions. Multivariable negative binomial regression models were fit to assess which demographic factors (e.g, gender, age, etc.) were associated with the 1) patient’s level of knowledge regarding the physician training hierarchy and 2) patients’ opinions regarding trainee-provided care in the ophthalmology outpatient clinic of an academic medical
center. Main outcome measures include patients’ understanding of physician training hierarchy (i.e. medical student versus resident versus attending physician) and patients’ opinions regarding trainee involvement in ophthalmological procedures.
Results: Eighty-nine percent of patients reported it is very important to know the training level of their care provider, but only 78% of patients reported that they usually know whether the provider caring for them is a medical student, resident or attending doctor and only 72% of patients were aware that residents have completed medical school. Fifty-seven percent of
patients reported they felt comfortable with a physician-in-training performing surgery, as long as the trainee is supervised and the patient is informed prior to surgery; only 14% reported feeling comfortable with a supervised physician-in-training performing surgery if the patient is not informed prior to surgery.
Conclusions: Most patients believe it is important to understand the training level of their care provider; however, a substantial proportion of patients do not understand the training levels of care providers. The majority of patients report they would agree to have a supervised physician-in-training perform surgery on them if they were informed of this prior to surgery. Providing this information may increase patient willingness to participate in medical training experiences.

Journal of Academic Ophthalmology 2010; 3: 6-10. (c) Journal of Academic Ophthalmology

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