+AA
Fr
McMasterLogo_New-2017-300x165
Back
Evidence Summary

What is an Evidence Summary?

Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

Got It, Hide this
  • Rating:

Healthcare complaints in general medical practice predominantly related to quality and safety

O’Dowd E, Lydon S, Madden C, O’Connor P. A systematic review of patient complaints about general practice Family Practice. 2020; 37(3): 297-305.

Review question

      What is the nature of healthcare complaints in general medical practice?

Background

      Healthcare complaints are formal expressions of dissatisfaction regarding any action or care by a healthcare provider that is perceived to be suboptimal and to have an adverse impact on patients and their families.

      Healthcare complaints are recognized as an underutilized resource for quality and safety improvement. There is value in analyzing complaints at the system level by collecting the information from all complaints and using the insights to make improvements.

      The aim of this systematic review is to synthesize the current research on healthcare complaints and medico-legal claims in general practice.

How the review was done

      Review authors conducted a detailed search of five research databases for suitable articles to include in the review.

      Key terms used in the literature search included patient satisfaction, safety, complaints, malpractice, and primary care.

      In addition to the database searches, authors scanned the reference lists of relevant literature reviews for additional articles suitable for inclusion.

      A total of 2,960 articles were retrieved from the initial search, of which 21 were included in this review.

      This study was funded by the National University of Ireland, Galway, Hardiman PhD scholarship program. Review authors declare no conflicts of interest. 

What the researchers found

      Among the complaints included in the review, 54.6% were clinical in nature (focusing on the quality and safety of clinical care), 23.4% were concerning management (focusing on the clinical environment and institutional processes), and 23% were related to relationships (focusing on communication and respect).

      Examples of clinical complaints included inadequate patient assessment, failure to supervise or monitor care, unsatisfactory treatment, wrong patient or body part being treated, misdiagnoses, and problems with health records.

      Examples of management-related complaints included those concerning the telephone system, poor administration, inadequate disposal of drugs, length of wait time, and cancelled appointments.

      Examples of relationship-type complaints included alleged assault, discrimination, inadequate examination, inadequate explanation, and not taking the patient seriously.

      Motivations for patient complaints included a desire for someone to be held responsible, economic compensation, and professional discipline for the practitioner involved.

Conclusion

      Findings from this review highlighted the high proportion of quality- and safety-related complaints in general practice, patients’ motivations to improve the health system, and the various positive and negative impacts that complaints can have on individuals and systems involved.

      Review authors recommend for future research to be focused on the reliable coding of complaints and their use to improve quality and safety in general practice.




Glossary

Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

Related Web Resources

  • Dementia in long-term care

    Canadian Institute for Health Information
    Older adults with dementia may need to move into long-term care homes if they can no longer stay at home. These people have higher risk of getting physically restrained or given antipsychotic medication. Changes to policy and education have made these things happen less often.
  • Treating pressure ulcers: New evidence, continued uncertainty

    Evidently Cochrane
    Gauze dressings should not be used to treat pressure ulcers (bed sores). Other options include alginate dressings, hydrogel dressings, and negative pressure wound therapy. More evidence is needed about which options are best to improve pain and reduce complications. Research should measure outcomes that matter to patients and carers as well as health professionals.
  • Patient education: Delirium (Beyond the Basics)

    UpToDate - patient information
    Delirium is the result of brain changes that lead to confusion, lack of focus and memory problems. There is no specific treatment for delirium - it is best to avoid risks, treat underlying illnesses and receive supportive care. Sedatives and physical restraints should be avoided.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Register for free access to all Professional content

Register
Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.
Subscribe

Support for the Portal is largely provided by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative. AGE-WELL is a contributing partner. Help us to continue to provide direct and easy access to evidence-based information on health and social conditions to help you stay healthy, active and engaged as you grow older. Donate Today.

© 2012 - 2020 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use