- Health care workers are increasingly asked to disclose the achievements and failures of their medical interventions. Comparative evaluation of hospitals seems to be inevitable. In July 2000 about 6000 health care workers in the Netherlands received a questionnaire from the general lay weekly Elsevier asking them to grade the hospitals in their area: specialists, general practitioners, heads of departments in hospitals, nursing staff and hospital directors. The questionnaire has serious methodological flaws, e.g. regarding the items included (such as ‘press sensitivity’ and ‘waiting lists’), the way in which the score was determined (hospitals that were scored by less than 14 respondents were excluded), the way the questions were formulated (there was no way respondents could indicate their level of experience with the hospitals involved) and the very low response rate (13). In addition there were no data to determine the accuracy of the questionnaire, the distribution of the respondents, or whether the answers had been adjusted.
The questionnaire appears to be primarily aimed at creating sensation. It received little attention in the health care sector, probably because the results were contrary to the expectations.
Hospital care will undoubtedly benefit from surveys applying a limited number of well-designed indicators for quality of service, but a questionable public qualification based on a competitive model such as the Elsevier questionnaire will probably do more harm than good.