Patient and family complaints are addressed promptly with empathy and understanding
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 by1:
- 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 management2.
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.
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.