Report sees regional Qld healthcare complaints jump

28 May 2013
A snapshot of Queensland healthcare complaints has found many patients still experience problems in having information properly communicated to them when a health procedure goes wrong.

The Health Quality and Complaints Commission's (HQCC) latest Annual Health Check 2012 also saw a 33 per cent jump in the number of healthcare complaints received compared to reported complaints in 2011, with more than 3500 people making a complaint in 2012.

Maurice Blackburn medical negligence specialist Sarah Atkinson said the latest figures show that patients rightly were continuing to expect a reasonable standard of healthcare and in too many instances were being let down when seeking an explanation when things go wrong.

"It is alarming to see complaints are continuing to rise in so many regional areas of Queensland, especially in places like Townsville, Cairns, Ipswich, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast," Mrs Atkinson said.

"As this report highlights, in many instances patients often just want an explanation and one of the keys to this is better communication. People also want reassurance that action is being taken to prevent it happening again.

"Medical negligence may not be a factor in every instance, but in any event patients are still entitled to an explanation, and practitioners and service providers can often do this without having to admit any liability.

"With improved communication and a better 'bedside manner' many complaints could be avoided and people should not be fobbed off when there has been a clinical error such as failing to diagnose a serious illness.

"Communication about what has happened is important not just in providing closure for people affected but also so patients can be reassured no stone has been left unturned in addressing any issues raised," she said.

Public hospitals accounted for 55 per cent of all complaints, with doctors attracting the highest number of complaints amongst registered health practitioners.

The HQCC's annual report can be accessed at: http://www.hqcc.qld.gov.au/Resources/Documents/Reports/Annual-Health-Check-2012.pdf

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