Dialogue Volume 15, Issue 2 2019 | Page 21

COMPLAINTS Reducing the risk of receiving a complaint A Vice Chair of the ICRC provides advice BY DR. AKBAR PANJU A s a physician, I know how upset- ting it is to learn that a patient has complained about you. I also know that all of us strive to deliver the best care possible to our patients and it can be jarring to find out that a patient is unhappy. While dealing with a complaint can be an uncomfortable experience, it can also be a valu- able one, because it offers an opportunity to look at an aspect of your practice through the perspective of a patient. After all, we all have our blind spots, and we all have areas where we can improve. For the past five years, I have been a member of the CPSO’s Inquiries, Complaints and Re- ports Committee (ICRC), the committee that oversees all investigations into physicians' care and conduct. For the past two years, I have been a Vice Chair of the Committee. Recently, I was asked by my medical school to give a presentation on best practices for reducing the risk of a complaint. As I put together the presentation, it struck me – and not for the first time – that so many of the complaints that we see around the ICRC table have recurring themes, with a disproportionate percentage of them rooted in communication issues. In the spirit of sharing some insights straight from the ICRC table, here are a few tips on how to minimize your chances of a formal complaint: Discuss the rationale for your clinical decisions with patients and listen to their concerns. Talk about why a treatment is necessary – or not necessary. Such conversa- tions don’t need to take a long time, and they can often mean the difference between a patient leaving their appointment with the sense that their feelings have been validated and respected or leaving the appointment with feelings of discontent. 1 ISSUE 2, 2019 DIALOGUE 21