Effective Ways to Handle Patient Complaints

Updated on May 5, 2020
Effective Ways to Handle Patient Complaints
Effective Ways to Handle Patient Complaints

Regardless of the quality of your service, it’s impossible to please everyone. In other words, patient complaints are unavoidable. How you address common patient complaints in a dental office, hospital, or other healthcare fields can have a large impact on patient satisfaction and retention, as well as the reputation of your practice. While you can’t stop the complaints from coming, you can help diffuse frustrations and even turn a seemingly negative situation into a positive opportunity to improve your service. Here are some effective ways to handle patient complaints.

Lend them your ears

While it may seem obvious, the first step to effectively handling a patient complaint is to listen to them. It’s important to avoid getting defensive or frustrated and interrupting them before they finish. Doing so could escalate the issue and cause the patient to become increasingly upset. Instead, allow the patient to fully vent their issue. Once they’re done expressing their concerns, summarize the main issues they brought up and repeat them back to them. Doing so helps show that you were listening carefully while also mitigating any miscommunication.

Promptly address the issue

After listening carefully to the patient’s complaint, discuss potential solutions with the patient as well as management. Once you’ve determined an effective way to potentially resolve the complaint, explain the efforts you are going to take to the patient. Let the patient know that you are being proactive about resolving the issue.

Ideally, you want to resolve the situation at the time the problem took place. The sooner you’re able to take action to resolve the issue, the happier your patient will be and the less negatively the altercation will impact your practice. If an immediate resolution isn’t possible, let the patient know that you will follow up with them in a given time frame to update them on your progress.

Follow up with the patient

After taking measures to resolve your patient’s concern, make sure to follow up with them about how the issue was handled. Strong communication is essential when it comes to effectively dealing with patient concerns. Let them know that you have fully addressed the issue and taken steps to avoid similar problems in the future.

If a significant amount of time has passed and the issue is still unresolved, it is still beneficial to check in with them about the progress you have made to address their complaint. Doing so can help ease their mind by showing that you’re taking their issue seriously.