Background Patient satisfaction is an increasing area of interest due to implications of pay for performance and public reporting of results. Although scores are adjusted for patient factors, little is known about the relationship between hospital structure, postoperative outcomes, and patient satisfaction with the hospital experience. Methods Hospitals participating in the University HealthSystem Consortium database from 2011-2012 were included. Patients were restricted to those discharged by general surgeons to isolate surgical patients. Hospital data were paired with Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) results from the Hospital Compare website. Postoperative outcomes were dichotomized based on the median for all hospitals and stratified based on surgical volume. The primary outcome of interest was high on overall patient satisfaction, whereas other HCAHPS domains were assessed as secondary outcomes. Chi square and binary logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate whether postoperative outcomes or surgical volume more significantly influenced high patient satisfaction. Results The study population consisted of 171 hospitals from the University HealthSystem Consortium database. High surgical volume was a more important predictor of overall patient satisfaction regardless of hospital complication (P < 0.001), readmission (P < 0.001), or mortality rates (P = 0.009). Volume was found to play less of a role in predicting high satisfaction on the other HCAHPS domains. Postoperative outcomes were more predictive of high satisfaction with providers, the hospital experience, and environment. Conclusions High surgical volume more strongly predicted overall patient satisfaction on the HCAHPS survey than postoperative outcomes, whereas volume was less predictive in other HCAHPS domains. Patients may require more specific questioning to identify high quality, safe hospitals.