I’m Kate Dewhirst.

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What bothers patients? Why do they complain? What we can learn from the Patient Ombudsman’s First Annual Report in Ontario

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The Patient Ombudsman just released her first report: Patient Ombudsman Annual_Report_Final_EN

A year of patient and caregiver conversations and complaints by the numbers:

Almost 2000 complaints

  • 1431 complaints received by phone
  • 553 written complaints

Complaints were made by:

  • 37% patients
  • 29% substitute decision-makers
  • 23% caregivers
  • 6% family members
  • 5% other

Some complaints were rerouted to other regulatory authorities such as:

  • 364 complaints sent to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
  • 108 complaints sent to the Ontario Ombudsman
  • 88 complaints sent to the College of Nurses of Ontario
  • 59 complaints sent to the Health Services Appeal and Review Board
  • 49 complaints sent to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

Types of health care organizations and their top complaints:

  • 70% hospitals – people were worried about inappropriate discharge, lack of communication and policies and procedures
  • 19% home and community care – people were worried about delay in service, inadequate service and policies and procedures
  • 11% long-term care homes – people were worried about poor care, policies and procedures, and lack of communication

Overall the top 5 healthcare issues Ontario’s patients and caregivers seem most concerned about:

  • 11% Inappropriate discharge
  • 10% Miscommunication or lack of communication
  • 10% Understanding and improving policies and procedures
  • 9.5% Access to service
  • 9% Poor care

Resolutions included:

  • Sharing the patient or caregiver perspective with a health service provider
  • Getting the right information to make a decision
  • Connecting to the right person who can help
  • Raising awareness of the issue
  • Getting a policy or a procedure changed for the better
  • Helping to prevent someone else from going through a similar experience
  • Getting an apology or formal acknowledgment of the concern

A few themes:

  • Patients want to be treated with greater compassion and dignity and seen as a whole person
  • Patients feel they have not been given enough information and time to make fully informed decisions
  • Patients and caregivers are fearful of speaking up about care in case of reprisal
  • Patients and caregivers are eager to participate in their own care plans

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April 28, 2020

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Team Privacy Training Events
March 31, April 17, May 6, June 17

For Primary Care clinics, Hospitals, Community Agencies and Children’s Aid

Kate trains health professionals from many more health care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. More details...

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