AAEM Position Statement on Patient Satisfaction Surveys in the Emergency Department

The American Academy of Emergency Medicine believes that a healthy physician-patient relationship is a core principle of the practice of emergency medicine. There is a growing trend to use patient satisfaction surveys as a tool to assess the quality of this interaction. As more organizations are using these questionnaires in their determinations of compensation and employment decisions, the Academy endorses the following recommendations to prevent the improper use of this information.

  1. The fundamental goals of patient satisfaction surveys in emergency medicine are to measure patient perceptions of the interaction with the physician and health care team, recognize outstanding care delivery, and explore opportunities for improvement.
  2. If the patient satisfaction surveys are used for determining compensation or making employment decisions, then
    1. the physician scoring and ranking methodology, statistical validity, and survey questions about the physician-patient interaction must be made available to the physicians prior to program implementation.
    2. only surveys with excellent reliability and validity should be used to measure patient satisfaction. In order for survey results to accurately represent the practice of any individual physician, survey samples must be adequately powered to detect differences in individual physician performance.
    3. the results of the patient satisfaction surveys and sample size as a percentage of all patients cared for by a physician should be provided to the physician.
    4. the use of the surveys must be detailed in employment contracts.


Published: 5/17/06