Structure of the response
Because complaints vary so much it is advisable to contact MPS at an early stage. On a number of occasions, MPS’s ability to assist members has been limited by prior responses submitted without our assistance. Be mindful when preparing your response that it may be read by more than the complainant, for example passed on to authorities such as the HDC.
Read the complaint and identify the issues raised. Often it is helpful to jot down a few words or a short phrase in the margin each time a new concern is mentioned.
Include a sympathetic opening paragraph, placing the complaint in context. This may include an apology and acknowledgement of distress (condolences) if appropriate. Explain how the matter has been investigated and summarise the issues raised in the complaint.
Where responses are to an external authority such as the HDC, Medical Council, or Psychologists Board, it is useful to include a paragraph that paints a picture of you as a health professional. You should include details of your qualifications (where you graduated from and when), vocational registration, and current worksite and role.
Make sure you include a clear chronological account of the events in question, with an explanation of what happened and why. Many complaints arise from a consultation or series of consultations. A clear account of each consultation in terms of the history given by the patient, the examination findings, the results of investigations, the working diagnosis and differential diagnosis, and the management plan, goes a long way to addressing concerns about the clinical care provided.
Answer all the questions raised in the complaint or explain why you cannot answer a point. Some complaints can be lengthy, containing a large number of concerns. In this circumstance it may be more appropriate to group the concerns into themes and deal with them on this basis.
Draw conclusions and advise of any improvements or changes in practice that have been made as a result. The motivating factor for many patient complaints is a desire to stop the same thing happening to someone else. Being able to demonstrate that you have taken the complaint seriously and have made any appropriate changes in your practice may stop it going further.