Hospital Surveys – How to truly get a random sample of your patient population

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When planning your hospital survey, it is unlikely you will survey each of your patients due to the sheer size of the hospitals patient population. For that reason, random sampling is the preferred method.

Random sampling is developing a list of all the possible patients that can be surveyed and then selecting a sub-group that truly represents the whole. Getting a random sample sounds simple, but, to be truly random, there are many factors to consider.

If you surveyed every 6th patient that walked into the hospital would you have a random sample? No, this would not be a random sample and here are a couple of reasons why:

• There are many reasons a person comes to the hospital such as: planned tests, emergency care, blood drawing, etc.
• You only sampled the emergency room entrance and not the main entrance

Here are some random sampling methods for your hospital satisfaction survey or medical survey along with the pros and cons of each:

1. Simple Random Sampling -Select patients at random from a complete list of all who had surgery or used a particular facility

• Advantage- Easy to do for small groups
• Disadvantage- Labor intensive and small samples may be biased or not representative to the patient population

2. Systemic Sampling – Select every certain number on a list of patients who had surgery

• Advantage-Easy to select every 3rd or 5th patient
• Disadvantage-Recurring pattern in potential patient group can introduce bias

3. Stratified Random Sampling -Divide the patient population into segments such as: Age, Gender, Health Issue, and then select a random sample from each of those segments

• Advantage-Sample is more likely to be truly random of your patient population than the “simple random sampling’
• Disadvantage- Can be labor intensive to calculate your patient population and sample size for each segment

4. Cluster Sampling – Random sample of clusters of patients. Data is collected from the entire cluster. Example: “All patients had surgery in the surgical center on Lime Street”

• Advantages-Convenient and in-expensive
• Disadvantages-Clusters have variables and introduce bias

As you can see in the sampling methods above, you will need to choose a method that best suits the needs of your hospital survey. Figuring out which sampling method works best for your particular medical survey, whether large or small, will be critical in extracting the information you desire for your research.

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