Nightly News | November 26, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Back now with some big changes quietly being implemented in hospitals across the country. Doctors and nurses are brushing up on techniques, and administrators are adding a slew of new features to keep patients as comfortable as possible. It's all because of some new rules that have hospitals racing to make the grade. We get the details from our chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman .
Dr. NANCY SNYDERMAN reporting: Hospitals are well known for bland food, long waits and often lousy bedside manner, generally patients' biggest gripes. Now thousands of hospitals are trying to polish that image.
Unidentified Doctor: So how's it going? Good?
SNYDERMAN: That's because under new federal rules, hospitals that discharge disgruntled patients stand to lose big money. Patients already receive this survey after a hospitalization asking things like how often were you treated with courtesy and respect and how well did the staff manage your pain? But as part of President Obama 's health care overhaul, soon low patient scores on this will mean fewer Medicare dollars to hospitals. At the renowned Cleveland Clinic , there's already a la carte food on demand, a nurse or doctor checking in every 15 minutes, even a massage.
Mr. B.J. RANIER (Patient): They just make you feel at home. And like they help you through it and they interact with you and get up you up moving and kind of doing something instead of staying focused on why -- the reason you're here. It gets your mind off everything.
SNYDERMAN: Hospitals are going to be judged beyond patient comfort, on cutting wait times, preventing deadly hospital infections, and mistakes that cost 100,000 lives a year. Hospitals across the country are getting the message, even hiring professional coaches to teach techniques to improve patient care . But some hospitals believe the new Medicare rules are not fair.
Ms. NANCY FOSTER (American Hospital Association): Those hospitals that serve the sickest patients oftentimes look worse on this survey strictly because their patients tend to give lower scores when they're not feeling well. We'd like to see the survey adjusted for that.
SNYDERMAN: For anyone facing hospitalization in the future, the hope is that these changes will lead to added comfort and improve the quality of health care for everyone. Dr. Nancy Snyderman , NBC News, San Francisco .