#4 How to be a better patient – What to do when you have a complaint?

Imagine you’re a patient with extreme pain and you therefore go to A&E (i.e. emergency room) in the hospital. Here you are sat down and not helped for hours. Or imagine you have had a very bad experience with a healthcare professional (doctor, nurse or whoever else in the hospital). What would you do?

You might hold a grudge against that specific person. It is then recommended that you discuss this issue with the specific healthcare provider. Don’t just keep your feelings to yourself. If unresolved, these experiences could erode your trust in the specific healthcare provider.

I was discussing this issue with a colleague earlier today. He mentioned that doctors should also play their part. Whenever doctors sense a patient is particularly unhappy with the healthcare service, whether it’s about yourself or a colleague, they should invite the patient to discuss this issue. Doctors shouldn’t shy away from having these difficult conversations. In the end the doctor-patient relationship might become damaged beyond repair if left unaddressed. My colleague mentioned that a good doctor invites the patient to discuss their complaint and if it’s a big error, they should even encourage the patient to file an official complaint. In general, this complaint is not intended to punish anyone, rather it will illuminate processes and behaviour that needs improvement. In the end, this will also benefit healthcare for other patients. Obviously both sides should try to stay respectful, we’re all humans and anyone can have a bad day and make a mistake. My colleague also mentioned that usually after having these kind of difficult conversations, these patients feel heard and understood, resulting in a stronger doctor-patient relationship than before.

In short, whenever you as a patient have a complaint about a healthcare service or provider, don’t shy away, try to communicate your feelings!

Featured image credits: Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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