The commonest complaints are :
My doctor is not easily accessible
He makes me wait too long
He doesn't give me enough time
He does not return my calls
He does not explain what’s going on to me
It’s potentially a long list of complaints – and complaining about doctors seems to be very popular pastime in the media these days !
My point is that if patients are unhappy with their doctor, rather than bottle up their dissatisfaction, and complain about the doctor behind his back , it would make far more sense if they share their feedback with the doctor , so that they could jointly provide constructive solutions.
If my patients are unhappy with me, or my services, I request them to come and tell me what the problem is, so that I can try to fix it. While it is true that it is not possible for me to fix all problems ( after all, I don't have unlimited resources of time , money , energy and staff ), I can at least try to address the fixable pain points , so that my patients are happier in the future.
The best complaint is one which is accompanied by a solution as well ; and I tell my patients that if they provide a solution along with the problem , it makes it much easier for me to be able to do something constructive about it !
I often see patients who are unhappy with their earlier doctor. When I ask them whether they discussed their dissatisfaction with the doctor , the commonest answer is – No ! Most unhappy patients don't complain to their doctor, and there are many reasons for this.
Patients are scared that if they complain, the doctor (or his staff) may get angry with them , and will not provide them with good medical care. Also, patients often feel powerless and helpless . They may sense that the doctor is not bothered about their concerns, and will ignore these, so why bother to complain ?
Some feel that doctors are busy , and don’t want to waste their valuable time by complaining. Doesn’t the doctor have enough problems to deal with as it is ? Is it fair to burden him with additional complaints ?
Others believe that there is no point in complaining , because doctors don’t care ! He is so busy, that he will not pay attention to my complaints. He has so many patients that I don’t think he really cares about improving the service he provides to his the patients.
While some of these perceptions may be true, I don't think we can apply them universally across the board. Most doctors would much rather have happy patients, rather than unhappy , disgruntled
It doesn't take much time or energy to complain – you can send an e-mail , or write a letter. Even if a doctor may ignore your complaint, most responsible doctors take feedback from the patient seriously !
I think if patients want better services from their doctor , it becomes part of their duty and responsibility to provide feedback to the doctor . The feedback should not just be a list of complaints and criticism – it should also provide constructive solutions. Working together , doctors and patients can help each other provide a better service , creating a win-win situation for both of them.