Approaching Medical Complaints as a Healthcare Provider

Learning you’ve had a medical complaint filed against you can be stressful – especially if you feel you were providing the best care possible. Whether you’ve recently started your medical career or have been in a role for some time, you must be aware of the risk. The repercussions of a medical complaint can impact your career if the process isn’t handled correctly. Don’t let one mistake change your life. Instead, seek guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable medical license defense attorney.


What Are Patient Medical Complaints?

Unfortunately, even the most experienced doctors and medical professionals can get complaints filed against them. Patient medical complaints (MN Stat § 62D.115) can be filed by various individuals who have been in contact with you, and the reasoning behind doing so can vary. If you’ve recently learned a medical complaint has been filed against you, it’s best to act immediately. Below are common reasons for medical complaints:

  • Failure to provide CME credits
  • Concerns about prescribing or over-prescribing
  • Improper management of records
  • Inability to practice medicine with legitimate skill and patient safety
  • Boundary issues to include sexual conduct or inappropriate communications with patients
  • Unethical or unprofessional conduct
  • False or misleading advertising
  • Disciplinary action in another jurisdiction
  • Conviction of a felony reasonably related to the practice of medicine
  • Unlawfully revealing privileged communications from or about a patient
  • Abusive or fraudulent billing practices


How to Handle a Patient Complaint

Many medical professionals encounter disgruntled patients at some point throughout their career, so it’s important to know you’re not alone. While it’s likely your patient will file a complaint directly with the licensing board, they may choose to contact you directly. It’s unlikely that the issues can be eliminated entirely, but we’ve gathered a few tips to help you handle the situation correctly so your patient feels satisfied and heard.

  • Listen. At times, a patient may notify you that they’re filing a medical complaint against you. If this occurs, it’s best to remain calm and give your undivided attention to the patient. Try not to argue or interrupt the patient and avoid attempting to dissuade them from filing and openly admitting fault.
  • Acknowledge. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings and offer a statement of empathy so they feel you care and understand their frustrations. However, you must do so without agreeing to guilt either on your part or your practice’s.
  • Inquire. Ask as many questions as possible once your patient is finished sharing their frustrations. The more information regarding the incident, the better, as this will help you determine how the complaint should be approached.
  • Act. Reassure the patient that their complaint is being taken seriously and offer suggestions for solutions. If the patient doesn’t find any solutions appealing, make sure to let them know that a manager will be notified immediately regarding the issue.
  • Conclude. Patients appreciate being heard, meaning it’s essential to thank the individual for taking the time to notify you. When thanking your patient, be sure to stress the importance of patient satisfaction.
  • Document. All patient complaints should be formally documented, so you can easily access the information at any time. Once you’ve finished the conversation with your patient, you must gather patient care records and information regarding the initial complaint for your own and the practice’s records.


Common Mistakes You Should Avoid

Medical complaints can be filed by various individuals, from patients and family members to other health care providers, employees, and more. If you’ve recently learned that a medical complaint has been filed against you, you must consider the following common mistakes and do your best to avoid them at all costs.


Not Thinking the Complaint Is a Big Deal

Regardless of the type or severity of the medical complaint filed against you, you must treat it seriously. Many times, physicians dismiss the allegations or go into denial when notified of a complaint. While this may be tempting, not taking immediate and thoughtful action can turn the situation into a much larger matter. Right after learning a complaint has been filed against you, you must begin planning a thorough and respectful response. However, utilize offered resources and legal guidance rather than formulating a response on your own.


Ignoring or Missing the Response Deadline

You will be notified of a filed medical complaint by the licensing board. A notice of the complaint will be mailed or delivered electronically, and you must read it thoroughly. Not only is this to make you aware of the complaint, but it also provides a deadline as to when your response to the allegations and patient records are due. As a doctor, you have a busy schedule, but you must note the due date and begin compiling certified copies of the patient’s records immediately. If you fail to respond on time, it can affect your career substantially.


Not Seeking Help From an Attorney

Medical license defense attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in managing cases regarding complaints, licensing, and more. These cases can be complex and challenging, making it vital that you have a reliable advocate on your side. You must seek guidance from an attorney immediately after you receive notification of the complaint. They will advise you of the next steps, help prepare your response, and ensure you’re represented in the best way possible.


Failing to Notify the Malpractice Insurer

Filed medical claims can include serious or embarrassing allegations, and because of this, many physicians don’t look forward to broadcasting the information. Many malpractice insurance policies require physicians to notify the insurer and a risk manager of the claim. You must inform these individuals as soon as possible, as failure to do so can jeopardize your insurance coverage, employment, and more.


Attempting to Dissuade the Patient From Filing

At times, even patients that you’ve established a rapport with decide to file a medical complaint. Whether you’re familiar with your patient or not, it’s highly encouraged to avoid trying to dissuade the individual from pursuing a complaint. Not only can this damage evidence, but it rarely works. In fact, it’s best if you avoid contacting the patient, medical board, and other key individuals until you’ve sought legal counsel.


Responding Emotionally

While your first reaction may be to respond with anger or another emotion, you must try not to. Learning a patient has filed a medical complaint against you can be alarming – especially if you’re fearful of the effects the complaint may have on your career. However, with all this aside, it’s best to collect yourself and handle the situation as calmly as possible. Avoid speaking to the medical board regarding the complaint until you’ve processed it fully and have contacted an experienced medical license defense attorney to guide you through the process.


Admitting Fault Without Hesitation

It’s important to remember that you’re innocent until proven otherwise, and admitting fault right away may not end in your favor – especially without advice from an attorney. More times than not, unqualified admissions lead to more severe repercussions like malpractice exposure, limited career progression, and more. After learning a complaint has been filed against you, it’s best to stay candid and forthright with the board but avoid accepting blame until all facts are on the table.


Contact a Well-Versed Minneapolis Medical License Defense Attorney

If you’ve recently learned a medical complaint has been filed against you, your medical license and career might be at risk. Cases regarding your medical license or patient complaints can be life-changing – especially if you don’t follow procedures correctly. You must seek advice from an experienced and knowledgeable attorney immediately. To see how Lauren Campoli can help you, call the Law Office of Lauren Campoli at (612)-810-0060 or complete our online form today so we can discuss the next steps for your case.