COMMENTARY

Malpractice Dangers in Patient Complaints

Lee J. Johnson, Esq

Disclosures

July 19, 2010

In This Article

Do You Even Know When Patients Are Complaining?

Often doctors don't hear about the patient complaints. Maybe patients are intimidated and don't want to confront the doctor. It's okay to encourage comment. You don't have to ask, "How am I doing?" as did a former New York City mayor. But you can ask a patient, "Are you satisfied with the care you are getting?"

You will need to encourage staff to report complaints to you. Office staff and, to a lesser extent, hospital staff are famous for trying to insulate the doctor from problems in general and negative comments in specific. Many staff members see "protecting the doctor" from unnecessary phone calls or troubling patients as part of their job.

Perhaps the patient complains to the receptionist on the way out that she forgot to tell you about another medical problem. Stop right there. Have the patient brought back into your office.

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