6 Tips for Dealing With Medical Mistreatment

The HealthCentral Editorial Team | March 26, 2012

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What Went Wrong?

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Anyone can have a bad day, and a harried nurse in a busy ER may be woefully short in bedside manner, but most of us understand there’s a difference between an “oops” moment and a real mistreatment. Any medical establishment will agree that their patients have a right to be treated with dignity, but violations of privacy and patient mistreatment happens every day.

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Know What You Want

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Sometimes, a simple “I’m sorry” on behalf of the offender or their office is enough. Tone matters when it comes to discussing a complaint with an office manager, doctor, or medical company. Keep your temper, and know what you’d like to have happen before you talk to someone in charge.

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Lodge Your Complaint the Old-Fashioned Way

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Talking to a person in charge is always the first step in addressing a lapse on the part of staff, but it’s also recommended that you follow up on your complaint in writing.

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Consider Who You're Dealing With

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Hospitals, nursing homes, and other large-scale health facilities usually have patient advocates or ombudsmen who may be able to help you resolve your complaint. But do remember that these staff members ultimately work for the institution, so you are still your own best advocate, and the best advocate for a loved one.

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Know Your Patient Rights

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Patient rights issues can be a gray area, but most doctors offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health-centered businesses will provide you with a copy of their patient rights and privacy policies. Most of those places are also accredited by larger bodies who you may also be able to issue a complaint to.

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Keep Your Own Records

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If serious mistreatment or a blatant violation of patient privacy has happened, be sure to keep your own copies of any letters you’ve sent. Keep a list of people you’ve talked to, as well.