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A patient's eye view of quality

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 21 August 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:525
  1. Claire Rayner, president
  1. Patients Association

    One of the difficulties of being a patient is the way ordinary words are given medical meanings. “What are you complaining of?” means, to a patient, “What are you whining and moaning about?” To a doctor it means, “What's your problem?” Similarly, “The procedure was explained and the patient reassured” looks good on nursing notes, but would startle the patient who could not understand the explanation.

    Can't you, with such a superior service to offer, do the same?

    The word “quality” is the new buzzword, with everyone in the health industry telling everyone else what quality is and how to achieve it. But who is talking to the patients, or, more importantly, listening to them? Their definition of quality does not necessarily match with yours.

    The Patients Association collects the views of patients and offers them to healthcare professionals. I now offer them to you.

    So, what does the word quality mean to us? In general terms we need to feel total trust in the system and the people in it …

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