A consumer’s first point of contact in attempting to resolve a complaint should always be with the authority which provides the service concerned. This applies to both public and private health care providers.

In public hospitals, complaints are handled by the hospital administrators, for example, the Chief Executive Officer, the Medical Superintendent (where applicable) and the Director of Nursing. These officers may also receive assistance from committees of the relevant hospital board (for example, the ‘Patient Care Review Committee’). However, committees do not, as a rule, investigate individual complaints, especially where the complaint involves a matter of professional judgment or the treatment of individual patients by individual clinicians. Committees are usually more concerned with coordinating general policies regarding the quality of hospital services and so on.

In Community Health Centres the mechanisms for handling patient complaints are not as well developed. In some instances, the Coordinator of the Centre may be able to resolve the matter. In other instances the Department of Health and Human Services will become involved in resolving the complaint.

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