+ Complaints in practice
- Common patient complaints in a clinical setting include those related to:
- Members of the healthcare team
- The environment
- Departmental efficiency (e.g., time spent waiting)
- Harmful incidents
- Aspects of patient care
- Situations are handled before the patient leaves the department whenever possible.
- MRTs are responsible for being familiar with and following facility complaints policy, if one is in place.
- The department that deals with patient relations can be contacted for guidance when responding to a complaint.
+ Responding to complaints
- First, time is taken to fully acknowledge the concern being voiced:
- Listen fully to the complaint
- Give open and positive responses
- Ask questions to ensure understanding
- Avoid taking a defensive approach
- Try to see from the patient's perspective
- Once the complaint has been heard and understood, a conversation about possible resolution takes place:
- Offer suggestions and discuss whether the solutions are acceptable
- Give clear and honest explanations throughout, while considering the person’s ability to understand, as well as their culture
- Take action to implement the solution offered
- Confirm satisfaction with the response, or if not, that the matter will be taken further
- Document the complaint and actions taken
- Consider patient privacy at all times while also ensuring personal safety (i.e., ensuring others are close by in case of emergency)
- If a patient alleges that his/her rights have been violated:
- Alert the supervisor
- Document the incident as per facility policy
+ Learning from the complaint process
- Responding to complaints can also benefit the facility by:2
- Improving safety and quality of care
- Restoring the trust and confidence of patients and those who care for them
- Increasing efficiency through quick and simple resolution of complaints
- Promoting a culture of reporting and accountability
- Creating a more satisfactory working environment
- Building a reputation as a learning organization
- An external view on the quality of care is an important tool for quality management.1
- Pichert JW, Miller CS, Hollo AH et al. What health professionals can do to identify and resolve patient dissatisfaction. Jt Comm J Qual Improv 1998;24(6):303-312.
- Australian Council for Quality and Safety in Healthcare. Complaints management handbook for health care services. 2005. Available at: http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/complntmgmthbk.pdf. Accessed November 19, 2015.