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Healthcare Risk Management Quotes Paul Werner on Handling Patient Complaints

Buttaci, Leardi & Werner member Paul D. Werner is quoted in the April issue of Healthcare Risk Management in an article entitled “Patient and Family Complaints Require Careful Response,” which discusses how clinicians and staff should respond to complaints from patients and family members. The editors note that while complaints are common in healthcare, and some are trivial or unfounded, others may indicate a serious patient safety issue or an incident that could lead to litigation and liability. 

Werner, who represents physicians and other healthcare providers and organizations in civil litigation, criminal investigations and prosecutions, and professional licensing actions, said there is no magic answer to what to say in response to a complaint. “While it can be frustrating to not have a script when addressing complaints, the lack of a specific methodology also gives those responding to the complaint the ability to adapt to the specific circumstances,” Werner says. “Anyone who may potentially be responding to a complaint in the healthcare context should be trained on the basic do’s and don’ts, but also trained on substantive matters that will afford them the ability to review and react to the situation.”

In addition, Werner advises healthcare clients to avoid making concessions or direct apologies for actions or behaviors. Instead, he says they should focus on understanding and empathizing with the complainant’s situation.

“By way of a specific example, I advise clients to say, ‘I’m sorry to hear that you’re experiencing discomfort,’ or ‘I’m sorry you’re surprised by the fact that you were billed for that service,’ as opposed to ‘I’m sorry that happened to you,’ or ‘I’m sorry for that error.’” Werner explained.

The full article can be read at Healthcare Risk Management.

  • Posted on: Apr 9 2024