Most dissatisfied patients will never say a word … to you. They complain to their friends. They have their records sent down the street. Like that summer tan, they just fade away. So it can be particularly jarring when a patient makes the effort to express displeasure or dissatisfaction with the “care” they have received. Difficult as it is to believe, this gripe is an act of genuine respect.
Follow these steps to manage your next patient complaint:
1. Listen. They want to tell you what went wrong. Give them the opportunity without interrupting. Remember this is a business concern that the practice now has the opportunity to address.
2. Be careful not to indicate irritation or frustration in your demeanor. If you think of yourself as calm and concerned it will come across to the patient.
3. Take notes detailing the experience or situation.
4. Apologize sincerely to the patient for the problem, even if you do not feel the practice is at fault.
5. Tell them that you will look into the matter.
6. If it requires follow-up with the patient, tell them that you will get back to them within a specified time period, such as by the close of business tomorrow and do so.
7. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention.
8. Investigate the matter further to get the full picture.
9. If the complaint is the result of a practice system, consider bringing the matter up at the next staff meeting and ask the staff for input on how it can be addressed to avoid similar complaints in the future.
10. Take action. Don’t just gather information and do nothing. Implement steps and procedures to avoid a recurrence of the same or similar problem.