Who's in charge when I have a legitimate complaint that's being ignored?
First, we'll need to know who or what you're complaining about! If your complaint has to do with an employee of your PCP, Specialist, Hospital, Clinic, or other professional services, then I'd direct my complaint directly to the Personnel Manager and the highest ranking staff member available. I would also follow-up my complaint in writing to all parties you've previously discussed the situation with. Keep clear and concise notes regarding the dates, times, and places, as well as names, position/title of all persons involved, and any witnesses, including other patients. Additionally, keep notes regarding anyone you discuss the matter with, their response and any actions taken or promised. Along with the dates, times and locations, plus names and titles/positions within the firm/practice, etc. This applies to any and all complaints. Keep those notes! Without them you'll be sunk before you ever start!
The lead Doctor(s) should also receive a copy of your written complaint, outlining all offenses, your attempts to resolve the matter, the persons with whom you spoke to and their actions or promises for action. Include any attempts or actions taken along with those promised, but not put into action, along with any results or failures associated with said actions.
Give them a time frame in which to respond and rectify the problem(s) before seeking further actions. 10 days to two weeks should be sufficient. Make certain to send all correspondence certified, so you'll have a record that it was received, with attached copies and notes. Keep a chronological file of everything! From initial complaint actions, until full resolution!
If after the allotted time period has passed, and no action has been taken or any response or outline of action to rectify the situation, then I would proceed further.
If the complaint is directed toward the Doctor, the head of the Hospital or a particular Dept., then the highest ranking person available at that location would be a good place to start. I would still contact the Personnel Manager and try to follow-up with anyone whom might have authority over the Doctor or person you've a complaint against.
There are also the State Medical Boards and State Medical Associations, as well as Federal Medical Boards and Federal Medical Associations for you to direct your complaints to, however, I would use caution and discretion before involving either the State or Federal levels until you feel you have exhausted all other means of resolving the matter and have no other resources left to contact.
Remember to keep your complaint clear and concise. Give the offending person one final opportunity to rectify the situation, while letting them know your next step will be to contact the State or Federal Medical Boards and Associations. Generally, just the threat of contacting them will bring about a response and typically some form of a resolution. But, if not, at least now they know how serious you are with your complaint.
Always include your local Health Care Advocacy groups in all complaints, whether large or small. It is their duty to keep records of the number of complaints against each individual Doctor, their staff members, and their practice. All this information is available for public record and can be easily accessed. Consider it a blemish on the reputation of each Doctor and their practice. Enough of them will cause them some patients and eventually effect their wallets.
If you still can't find resolution, then by all means contact the State and Federal levels of the Medical Boards and Associations. Send them a letter outlining your complaint, all attempts you've made to resolve it, plus copies of any and all correspondence between you and the offending parties, in chronological order. Keep your feelings to a minimum -- just state the facts as clearly and without emotion, as possible. Keep to the truth and try not to add opinions rather than facts. Be concise, yet keep it brief and to the point.
After that you'll just have to wait until they respond. You may wish to contact only the State, first. See what they do or how they respond. Then, if you're still not satisfied, you can proceed with contacting the Federal Boards and Associations with your complaint. Either way, you'll receive at minimum some type of an investigation and written response.
I don't recommend bringing in the media. They tend to muck -up the problem and use their own version of the truth to slant it towards how they or their readers/viewer see it. Besides, they can create more problems that they're worth. The very last thing you want is to have them, the media, catch you off guard, making a statement that can be taken out of context and makes you seem foolish. Or worse yet, causes you a legal battle down the road. There is a very fine line between complaint and slander, so keep to the facts and mind that your temper stays in check.
Try to accept that the inevitable may be less than what you deserve. But this is how life works. It isn't always fair, and truthfully, there are very few reasons to keep someone from pursuing their chosen career. So, accept that the final decision of the State or Feds may be less than desired, and realize while they may only placate you, the person you've lodged the complaint against is probably going to be on the receiving end of some fairly stern warnings and reprimands, that you won't ever hear about!
The truth is, mostly what goes around, comes around. I know it seems trite, but it also happens to be very true. People generally pay for their arrogance and disrespect in spades. It may be that you'll have to accept that they'll get theirs, what's coming and due for them, in the end, and accept that on faith. And, besides, who knows, may be you've hastened that end a little bit yourself!
My mission although I didn't sign up for, is to endure all those crazy incidents you hear about from friends and coworkers. You know, those ones about the person who spent 15 hours in the waiting room at some hospital emergency ward. Or, even better, the one where this person sold health care policies only to find themself fighting for their life with the healthcare company just months before had been singing their praises. How's that for irony. Well, we all know the sob stories. I'll try to keep those to a minimum, and only when absolutely necessary for a point, but this is about all those crazy inconveniences that the healthcare industry as a whole puts the average person though on a daily, no hourly, basis, without thought, care or much consideration whatsoever. It's shameful. Why is my time and effort worth so little, especially when I'm paying you to provide a service to me. Why then is it necessary to fight tooth and nail just to get what I paid for? Is anybody listening? Well I certainly am listening, and screaming at the top of my lungs to anyone who'll listen to me. We need a grass roots campaign started like yesterday. We need someone whose on our side of the argument for once. Help out with your own stories and comments. Or, just try to keep me from going to far up on my soapbox. I truly hope I can help someone, open people's eyes to the craziness, and maybe make some small change in how heathcare treats us!