Overall patient experience with emergency department communication

Patients’ overall experience communicating with emergency department doctors and nurses (0-100 rating). (see data dictionary)

What do you see?

  • Are there any trends over time at the emergency department(s) where you work or would be most likely to visit?
  • Are there differences in patient experiences between hospitals of the same type (e.g., Large Urban)?

Whether you’re a patient, provider, or health system administrator, thinking about why these differences might exist can start conversations and lead to solutions for improved quality of healthcare.

Understanding “patients’ overall experience with emergency department communication”

Surveying patients about their experiences in the emergency department provides a voice for patients about the quality of their care. A key part of their experience can be determined by communication with healthcare providers.

The HQCA asked emergency department patients a series of questions about different aspects of communication they experienced during their visit. These questions were asked separately about doctors and nurses.

The questions were:

  • how often did doctors/nurses introduce themselves to you?
  • how often did doctors/nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?
  • how often did doctors/nurses listen carefully to you?
  • how often did doctors/nurses explain things in a way you could understand?

For each question, the patient could choose “never”, “sometimes”, “usually”, or “always”. The HQCA assigned responses at appropriate positions along a scale of 0 to 100 (never = 0, sometimes = 33, usually = 67, always = 100). Those numbers were then used to calculate the results shown in the chart above.

In previous HQCA emergency department patient experience surveyscommunication by healthcare providers was one of the most important aspects of determining patients’ overall ratings of care.

This chart reports on communication from emergency department nurses and doctors because they are the most common healthcare providers in the emergency department. However, patients’ experiences can benefit when all types of hospital staff and healthcare providers introduce themselves, communicate with respect, listen, and explain things clearly.

Understanding the HQCA’s  emergency department patient experience survey

Every two weeks, the HQCA conducts a telephone survey with a random sample of patients from each of the 16 emergency departments reported on this website. The patient input collected in the surveys is then analyzed by the HQCA and the results of the question above, and six others, are uploaded to this website every quarter (three months). See our methodology page to learn more about the survey methodology.

Results from April to July 2016 are not reported for the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre due to the forest fire that affected Fort McMurray and forced the closure of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.

Results for November 2019 to July 2020 are not available for the University of Alberta Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess the emergency department’s performance in these dimensions of quality:


Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability 
  • Accessibility 
  • Appropriateness 
  • Effectiveness 
  • Efficiency 
  • Safety