Today's blog post is from guest blogger Alexis Bonari.

Many hospitals consistently provide quality care to their patients, but there are always instances where certain individuals don’t receive the professional attention they deserve. This is to be expected in any business, but in hospitals, the consequences can be more serious and could lead to life-threatening situations. Hospitals also present more difficulty because patients are not always in a sufficiently stable mental or physical state to be their own care quality advocates. The following are steps to be taken by patients or their family members and should serve as a guide to proceeding through the proper channels to achieve fast and effective results.

Based on which section of the hospital is administrating your care, choose the right representative when you decide to inform hospital staff that you or a loved one is receiving inferior care. If you’re in a room at the hospital, speak to the nurse manager, but if you’re in the emergency room, it’s best to inform the ER supervisor. When communicating with these individuals, try to accurately and quickly describe the severity of the care deficit or abuse so that they don’t feel that their time is being wasted. Nurse managers and ER supervisors have an increasing number of responsibilities and patients as hospital staff downsizing occurs, so being respectful of their time constraints may help you gain their attention. Once you’ve contacted the manager or supervisor, request a prompt investigation and ask to be notified as soon as anything has been found or decided.

 If you are dissatisfied with the results of contacting the nurse manager or ER supervisor, address the hospital’s patient representative. This person is there to address concerns and special needs, so take advantage of that fact by communicating with him or her. Patient representatives are often responsible for collecting information about patient dissatisfaction, so the one at your hospital would be a primary contact in the potential lodging of a complaint.

If action is still not taken, talk to the nurse supervisor of your patient care unit, then the vice president of nursing. If you have any way to connect your mistreatment with potential legal action, you can contact the hospital’s risk manager as a way to get the ball rolling. Another option is to contact the chief operations officer (COO), whose duties include ensuring patient satisfaction. This person interacts a lot with the CEO, so he or she should be able to inform the right parties of your complaint. If this fails, go directly to the president or CEO before filing your complaint with an outside organization.

When all else fails, lodge a formal complaint. Try your State Agency, which is the Health Department for the state of New York. Complaint concerns are redirected to IPRO, where you are encouraged to call 1-800-331-7767 to describe your concern. You can also contact your hospital’s corporate headquarters, news media programs, or The Joint Commission. This organization is responsible for accrediting almost every hospital in the country and reviews all quality of care complaints that are submitted to it. These complaints are also recorded in the Commission’s database so that they can be referred to in the case of investigation.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at Online Degrees, researching areas of online colleges. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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Chuck Pilcher 09/11/2010 11:57 PM
How refreshing!!! It doesn't even mention that "If all else fails, call a qualified malpractice attorney." The above process is exactly the one that should be followed. The Risk Manager is probably the key person to discuss a problem with when escalating an issue, as that person usually has the ear of everyone in the organization.
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