How to Deal with Patient Complaints

Healthcare Training Resource
September 17, 2012 — 1,067 views  
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Every healthcare professional from the secretaries to the doctors knows
about the wrath of patient complaints. They come in so many forms of patient
problems that they would seem to be nearly impossible to get under control. The
best course of action is to answer complaints sincerely without wasting time.
Here are several general steps your hospital can take to mitigate
complaints. 

First, make sure that you as a healthcare professional are actually listening
to the problem. This could be very difficult depending on how many challenges
you are being faced with every day. A patient's problem may seem quite trivial
among the deluge of other issues. There is no need to argue with the patient or
to dismiss him or her. Be sure to empathize with the patient, as well. Let them
know that you understand that there is a problem. Be careful not to give an
admission of guilt for yourself or the facility. Simply be available and
understanding to the complaint.

Next, be sure to ask questions so you can gain as much information as possible.
The patient may not understand the underlying cause of the complaint, but you
have the capacity. Once again, affirm with the patient that his or her
complaint is being handled in a serious manner. 

Once you have gathered all the information you need, make suggestions of
solutions for the patient's problem. If the issue is out of your expertise or
cannot be solved by you, make sure to let the patient know that you will defer
to a higher-level manager. Be sure to let the patient know that a prompt
response can be expected.

Conclude by showing your appreciation for the patient's complaint. It may seem
annoying, but complaints will help improve the hospital and performance of its
staff. Patient quality of care must be emphasized heavily if you are to
maintain a good reputation in the community.

The last step you need to take when handling a complaint is documentation. It
is important for the patient to have an opportunity for written commitments to
solutions and record of his or her complaint. This is critical for both
patients and staff in terms of liability or protection from legal action. If
actions are not properly documented, then defense in court over a complaint can
get very difficult. The healthcare staff is made up of professionals;
therefore, the onus is on them to make sure that proper documentation is
carried out consistently.

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