I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

Kate Dewhirst Health Law - bringing the law to life. Meet Kate (in 13 seconds)

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

Posted by

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

If you enjoyed this article please share it:


Previous and next posts from Kate:

Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

November 14, 16, 29 & 30 and December 3, 11, 12, 13 & 19

For Primary Care clinics and FHTs

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

Building healthy habits

November 26, 2018

Legal coaching at a Toronto law firm.

A private coaching session

Primary care webinar: Shared services agreements

December 6, 2018, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Pitfalls that primary care organizations need to look out for when agreeing to provide care in collaboration with other healthcare organizations.

Full details of the 2019 webinar series and registration here.

Privacy Officer training

April 30 through June 4, 2019

Kate’s specialist training course for Privacy Officers in health organizations.

Open to all health Privacy Officers, as well as those hoping to become Privacy Officers. Full details and registration for Privacy Officer training next spring here...

Advanced Privacy Officer training

June 18, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!

December 5, 2018 4-5pm and January 9, 2019 12noon-1pm

Free webinar - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experience privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

Kate says:

My mission is bringing the law to life. I make legal theory understandable, accessible and fun! I’m available and love to work for all organizations in the healthcare sector across Ontario and beyond.

Subscribe to my mailing list and keep up to date with news:

Latest Tweets

Physician fitness to practice cases challenging for #hospital leaders https://t.co/ZfHLYJDaxR #Credentialing #healthinformation #HealthLaw

about 2 hours ago


TedTalks your health care team can watch about privacy https://t.co/wNozQViSIA #TED #TEDtalks #healthcare #healthprivacy #HealthLaw #legal

about 8 hours ago

contact details

901 King Street West Suite 400 East Tower
Toronto Ontario M5V 3H5

(416) 855 9557