Sunday, 23 November 2008

Complaints

I have received many complaints over the years from patients and relatives. Some have been justified and are usually caused by bad communications. Most however are a waste of time and are usually caused by us (the hospital) not doing what the patients wants when they want it. These complaints are usually about the wait to be seen but two complaints recently have just topped them all.
The first was from a couple of young guys - early twenties - who when I asked when the patient had hurt themselves the friend said "Well it will be about three hours ago now the time we have waited here." This time I thought hang on, I know we are busy but our waiting time is not that long so I checked their arrival time. From the time of arriving in the department to being seen by me was 40 minutes, on our busiest day of the week with a full waiting room. They were complaining about waiting 40 minutes. I was less than diplomatic and asked if they had noticed the number of people surrounding them in the waiting room? No, they just felt that having to wait under an hour was still too long.
The other complaint was definitely the weirdest one I have dealt with. I was giving a patient a meal - that he had ordered from a menu - and he complained that the food was too white. What? The food was too white. White cod, with white potatoes and white cauliflower all on a white plate. How do you answer that one? Turns out he was a lecturer in catering and felt that a bit more thought should have gone into presentation, despite the fact that he had ordered it. He also mentioned (complained?) that the green salad had some red tomato in it. Still don't know if he was winding me up or serious.

10 comments:

Paula said...

OMG there is just nothing you can say to these kind of people

Dr Grumble said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Grumble said...

It's annoying when those who complain the loudest have contributed the least to society themselves. Yet they expect to have everything laid on for them by somebody else.

There are also those like the catering chap who work in areas where the greatest thing they have to worry about is whether the food on your plate looks pretty. These people fail to grasp that in a hospital the stakes (sorry) are very much higher and that just keeping things safe is a major challenge. These people often have very much more in the way of resources to plan the colours of their food - in an NHS hospital it's amazing what the caterers achieve given the tiny amounts spent on food.

Unfortunately many people are too ignorant to understand the issues. As Paula says, there is nothing you can say to people like that.

Elaine said...

Good comment, Dr Grumble.

Louise said...

Took a patient into the waiting room at 3 in the morning once, it was empty save for one of the regulars sleeping it off on the chairs in the corner.

Our 'patient' then started complaining about having to wait for ages, really shouting and kicking about it! Inbelievable!

I explained in my best 'don't mess and stop being an idiot voice' that he would seen a lot quicker is leanrnt some manners!

Nosce Te Ipsum said...

I have always found that it seems to be the least injured/least in pain patients, that feel the need to complain the loudest..about how much pain they are in, whine about wait times, and quality of care. That's when I would like to take them on a tour of the trauma bay, and then tell them to sit back down in the waiting room and count their blessings!

gab said...

There are just some that you cant please! White white and more white yet he ordered it! And he complained? Come on get real you order it that way of course it will be that way.Oh wait maybe he expected all that white to be on a red plate?

OFMN said...

"Too white" - that's a new one on me. Probably not the worst complaint ever heard by the kitchens, though..

GrumpyRN said...

It wouldn't be so bad if the food was poor, but our kitchens give good tasty food. The amount spent per head is appalling but they manage somehow to put hot food on every ward and staff canteen 3 times a day. I have recently had more than my share of hospital food and while it is not home cooking it is tasty but some people seem to forget that it is mass catering.
I have no problem with complaints, people are entitled to complain and as I said sometimes we are at fault but when people complain about the colour of food I switch off. We have even recently had a complaint that we had the wrong cola in the vending machine.
The real problem is that these trivial nonsense complaints are given the same seriousness as the genuine ones. We, like all hospital trusts nowadays, have a whole department dealing with complaints and a lot of time and effort goes into answering each one, even the most trivial of complaints requires an investigation and a written statement and each answer starts off with the sentence "We are sorry you have found the need to complain....." an apology right from the start.

Anonymous said...

Oh grumpy RN - I work in the complaints office of a large acute hospital - I'm with you all and all the other comments all the way on this one!