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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848


ARRIES, Ebin J  and  NEWMAN, Odette. Outpatients' experiences of quality service delivery at a teaching hospital in Gauteng. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2008, vol.13, n.1, pp.41-54. ISSN 2071-9736.

Quality service delivery to the consumer of health is a legal reality as it is emphasised in the White Paper on the Transformation of Public Service delivery (South Africa, 1997). The guiding philosophy adopted within this framework is that of Batho Pele, which means placing the consumer at the centre of healthcare service delivery. Increasing attention has been paid to hospital processes from a quality perspective. By analogy, outpatient departments can be viewed as industrial plants where technological know-how is transferred to patients through service delivery, which is a cornerstone of a hospital's business. Outpatients, as consumers of healthcare, draw conclusions about the quality of service delivery based on their experiences of such services. In this vein, an outpatient's experience of a particular service is an indicator of his/her level of satisfaction with the quality of that service. No South African study can be found in the literature on out-patients' experiences of quality service delivery. This study's purpose is to explore and describe outpatients' experiences of the quality of service delivery at a teaching hospital in Gauteng. A qualitative, explorative, descriptive study that was contextual in nature was conducted to achieve this aim. Focus group interviews were conducted with outpatients who met the selection criteria. Open coding was used to analyse the contents from the transcripts and field notes typed verbatim. Strategies for trustworthiness, namely co-coding, prolonged engagement, triangulation and adequate referencing, were employed to ensure the credibility of the study and research findings. The results reflect themes that were reduced into two main categories, namely positive and negative experiences. The positive experiences reflect outpatients' experience of their relationship with medical staff and their satisfaction with the quality of medical care. Negative experiences relate predominantly to a lack of service commitments, unethical context, and inter-personal relationship difficulties that render them powerless and dehumanised. Recommendations are made to improve the quality of service delivery at outpatient departments.

Keywords : experiences; out-patients; quality; service delivery; dehumanisation.

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