Factors Affecting the Patients' Decision in Selecting a Hospital in Medical Emergency
Selecting a hospital in a medical emergency is a critical decision for any patient or patient's guardian. Though there are many researches done on this subject in developed countries, there have been no studies done in Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka did not have a structured emergency medical care setup covering the entire island, it was quite interesting to explore the factors which influenced a patient or patient's guardian in selecting a hospital for a medical emergency. Generally, private hospitals in Colombo have better facilities for medical emergency patients than the state sector hospitals. In spite of facilities provided, many patients sought the services of state sector hospitals in medical emergencies. This study was done to establish the reasons for above mentioned situations. The patients admitted for medical emergencies to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) and Lanka Hospitals (LH) were considered for this study. Fifteen percent of the medical emergency patients of NHSL and LH in the first week of April 2014 were randomly selected for this study. Based on the above percentages, data was collected pertaining to 166 patients out of 1,036 emergency patients of NHSL and 40 patients out of 266 emergency patients of LH. The collected data was analyzed using SPSS version 16. Nominal and ordinal scale data were reported as absolute and relative frequency. The study revealed that a patient or patient's guardian considered several factors when selecting a hospital in medical emergencies. The study explains that the most important factor in choosing a hospital for medical emergencies was the reputation of the hospital in handling the medical emergencies. Further, non-availability of health insurance coverage and un-affordability for charges, were the other major reasons for selecting NHSL in medical emergencies. The study revealed that the patients preferred NHSL than private hospitals in Colombo when there was a medical emergency, due to the above mentioned factors. Further, the medical emergency patients of NHSL were satisfied with their treatment than the patients of LH. If a private hospital in Colombo expects attracting more medical emergency patients, it should concentrate on the factors which improve the reputation of its' Emergency Department (ED). This can be achieved through research based interventions on the areas of patients' concerns in relation to the Emergency Department of the hospital.