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SAN DIEGO, CA – New governmental regulations passed last week by Congress have created another vital sign, making this the 6th core vital sign, or 5th if one neglects to think of pain as the 5th vital sign.  U.S. regulation 456.83 overwhelmingly passed the Senate in a 93-7 vote which now requires continuous Press Ganey score monitoring while patients are admitted to a hospital.

vital sign monitor“We saw this coming for a while,” stated Mark Andruckers, CEO of Aetna Health.  “However we were surprised at how quickly patient satisfaction scores have escalated from a survey, to being linked to reimbursement at discharge, and now real time scoring.”

New monitors are being installed as we speak in hospitals throughout the US that will have an extra waveform that receives input from a mood ring on the patient’s ring finger.  The mood rings transmit real-time continuous Press Ganey scores to the new monitor, and displays both a waveform and score.

Health care providers can now physically watch their scores plummet or increase based upon how they are treating the patient.  In the past, it was only the final score at discharge that mattered.  Now, providers will be judged by their lowest levels or what the patient’s waveform looked like throughout their stay.

Real time Press Ganey score reporting will be reported during medical rounds just like blood pressure ranges, respiratory rates, heart rates, and pulse oximetry ranges.   Electronic medical records (EMRs) are already being modified to contain more boxes to write in hourly scores with some saying 5-minute increments and waveform data saving should be the next step.

“Many doctors and nurses have to modify their behavior due to this new regulation,” said hospitalist Dr. Rachelle Morrison.  “Before this, you didn’t have to worry about your scores early on during an expected long admission.  Typically if you healed the patient and cranked the charm at the end, you would turn out good scores.  But now, I might have to kiss butt and bow to the patient’s demands from the start.”

Nurse Megan McCoullough is excited to try out the new monitors.  “I’m retiring this year so I couldn’t care less about getting good scores for hospital reimbursement.  What I want to see is how low I can get the scores once I tell patients that the cafeteria is closed and that I can’t bring them turkey sandwiches coated with Dilaudid.”

The new monitors and mood rings made out of 18k gold are anticipated to cost hospitals and patients 28 billion over the next 2 years, but should improve quality of patient’s health care…right?