(NC) Every day, consumers complain loudly about everything from car repairs to home renovations. Yet when it comes to our health care, we are often reluctant to raise issues.
A recent U.K. survey found that only one in three people who are unhappy with their health care do something about it. As for why the majority keep quiet: respondents said they feel they won’t be taken seriously, or they worry that a complaint will affect their care.
“Addressing problems about your health professional is an important aspect of making sure you receive the best possible care and service,” says Marshall Moleschi, president of the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges of Ontario (FHRCO).
In Ontario, 26 colleges regulate over 300,000 health care professionals. The colleges exist to act in the best interests of the public and hold professionals accountable for their conduct and practice. More information is available at www.regulatedhealthprofessions.on.ca.
If you’re unsure or uncomfortable about what your health care professional is doing, or how they’re doing it, here are five tips to help make your concerns known:
- Remember your rights. As a patient, you have the right to ask questions, participate in decisions about your care, consent to care and treatment, and be treated with respect. Standing up for those rights can be important to your well-being.
Start at the source. If you have an issue with any health care professional, bring it up – and the sooner, the better. Dealing with a problem early can make your experience more positive.
Clarify your expectations. Are you looking for a change in the type of care? A chance to be heard? An apology? Be direct. Once you’ve stated your position and listened to your health care provider, see if you can find common ground.
Go up the ladder. If you’re not making progress, raise your concerns with the supervisor or other staff at the facility. For instance, hospitals have dedicated staff, like patient advocates who can help. Be as detailed as you can, such as what happened, when, who was involved, and the reaction to your original complaint.
Contact the regulator. If you feel that your care is being compromised, get in touch with your provider’s regulatory college. Anyone can submit a formal complaint, even long after the problem has occurred.
“Regulated health care professionals have an obligation to deliver safe, competent and ethical care,” Moleschi emphasizes. “It’s your right as a patient to expect that and to raise concerns if you’re not receiving it.”