If you’ve worked long enough in EMS, there’s likely to be a situation that crops up where you or someone you work with has received a complaint from a patient or patient’s family member. How do you respond back to those complaints? Is there a way, if you’re a supervisor in charge of these other individuals, how do you manage that complaint without making the situation any worse off.

Dealing with Complaints From the Start

Frustrated-nurse-charting-student-smThese are complaints of people are very angry, perhaps the treatment was inappropriate, perhaps it was just an inappropriate comment or perhaps someone stole something. Whatever the case may be, how you handle that complaint early on in the process can have a huge effect on how it affects the rest of your organization. How you handle it and your professionalism in dealing with the initial complaint from these individuals can go a long way towards improving the way they look at your whole organization at the end. This is important, so that a single EMT’s or paramedic’s actions don’t reflect on all of us.

Hopefully they come away at the end of here process with some kind of a positive reaction to the experience. It may not be completely positive but some aspect of it being positive, that they felt like their needs were met, like they were heard. There’s a great article I found at EMSworld.com by author Stephen Gilbert talking about how to take down complaint information. It’s not just getting the person’s name and contact information. It really is about how you respond to them from the very beginning.

Caring is Not Admission of Guilt

You do not admit any kind of guilt, you’re not admitting any kind of wrongdoing, but interacting with these patients in such a way that the patients or their caregivers or the public know that their complaint is being heard and that it’s going to be passed on up the chain.

If you’re a manager or supervisor yourself, how do you handle that complaint once it gets to you is another aspect of the issue. In this article it deals with that, too. The trick of responding back to people when it’s appropriate. Do you get that information immediately as soon as possible or might it be appropriate to wait a day or so such in the case when there’s been a death involved? We need to give that person a little bit of time to grieve before we come back and get the full information on the complaint. That’s all in this article. I urge you to follow up on it.

There are resources like this out there. If you’re thinking about moving on in your career in EMS, wanting to be a field training officer, supervisor, or some sort of manager, this is the kind of information you need to be reading about. I point this out because there are resources like this out there all over the place. I hope you continue to follow up. Of course, I’ll continue to cover things like this here at the MedicCast as well.


Follow-up on the links for this news item and all the links for news and additional resources in the shownotes for this episode — Detergent Pod Poisoning and Episode 316.


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