Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay

Should you register an official complaint against a hospital or doctor? Is that possible?

The short answer is yes and yes.

The slightly longer answer? I’ll begin with a story. A few months ago, I accompanied a young woman during her birth (I’m a doula for close friends and family). The birth was amazing! The problem happened after the birth, in the ward, as problems do. The new mother was exhausted (because she’d basically been awake for five days), overwhelmed (first baby), and emotional (remember, she’d just had a baby). The pediatrician decided that the young mother needed to be taught a lesson on parenting, because, of course, isn’t that the pediatrician’s job? (note heavy sarcasm ).

Image by Victoria_Borodinova from Pixabay
“No health professional should ever use scare tactics to convince a patient to change behavior.”

What is a doctor’s Job?

The pediatrician disagreed with the parents’ decision to discharge because she wanted the baby to stay in follow-up. Medically, both options were acceptable. Because the new mother was exhausted, overwhelmed and overdone, the young couple felt that being at home would be best for all of them, including the infant. So, instead of having a conversation with the new parents, figuring out their perspective, and discussing options with them, she gave them a 15-minute lecture about how they were causing their new child’s possible retardation (used that word even though no health professional or anyone at this point, uses that word anymore). Told them they were being negligent and basically stupid parents and that who knows what would happen to their endangered child.

In case you were wondering, this is unprofessional and unacceptable medical behavior. No health professional should ever use scare tactics to convince a patient to change behavior. The damage that a doctor can do by manipulating the facts to serve a medical purpose they feel is the correct one, is immeasurable. I know that it happens; I have seen it often. But it is still wrong.

What can we do?

Two points we take away from this story.

1) You can always discharge yourself from any medical situation, with what they call AMA, or “Against Medical Advice”. You will need to sign a form. You will need to deal with the unpleasant backlash from the medical staff sometimes, and, in certain hospitals, you will have to deal with a social worker’s visit as well.

2) You can, and should, register an official complaint. In Israel, complaints regarding anything health is through the Ministry of Health with this link. Remember, it is official, so you need to be ready to give your ID# (or passport) phone number and full name. If you are filing on behalf of someone else, you will need them to sign a power of attorney form, giving you the right to complain in their name. It will take you about 20 minutes, most likely. But I feel that when negligence or inappropriate behavior is experienced, we must let others know.

Summary of our story? We had to meet with the social worker. We had to sign a form. We were given a ridiculously hard time for no reason. I filed a complaint.

What would you have done?

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