One in five complaints are on health, social care — Ombudsman

Ombudsman intends to publish a special casebook this year which is to include HSE complaints

New figures show 23 of the 261 complaints made to the Ombudsman around general hospitals in 2019 have been upheld, another 14 were partially upheld.

While Ombudsman, Peter Tyndall, received 79 complaints involving medical and GP cards under the Health Service Executive (HSE), a total 10 were upheld. “Primary and Community Care” complaints for 2019 totalled 71 and eight were upheld.

His latest annual report records 34 complaints relating to psychiatric hospitals, with one complaint upheld and another partially upheld.

In addition, 33 complaints received by his office related to the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive and the statistics show that three were upheld.

Just over 700 complaints were lodged and completed in relation to the Health and Social Care sector.

Seven complaints were received in relation to the Department of Health and two were upheld.

The 2019 report highlights a case which led to improvement in a northwest hospital’s records management, following confusion over woman’s medical file.

A patient complained to the Ombudsman after a doctor at Letterkenny University Hospital had discussed a medical history with her, but she realised it was not hers. She then discovered a letter on her file belonging to a different patient but with the same name as hers.

The woman had attended the hospital for a surgical procedure, but she cancelled the procedure after the mistakes. The patient complained to the hospital but was unhappy with how it responded to her complaint, according to the annual report.

The report adds that the doctor had quoted the wrong medical history as he had read it from another patient’s record, which was misfiled on the patient’s medical chart.

The Ombudsman stated a ‘General Incident/Near Miss form’, which should have been completed immediately after the incident, had not been completed until after the patient had complained to the hospital.

In addition, the details on the form were not entirely accurate.

The General Manager of the hospital had apologised to the patient for the distress she had suffered.

In order to avoid a similar incident occurring, the hospital delivered refresher training to hospital staff on the correct filing of documents in medical record charts, reviewed its policies in relation to medical records management, and is to deliver training on the policies to staff.

The Ombudsman stated he would follow-up with the hospital in mid-2020.

In 2019, Learning to Get Better action plans were rolled out by the HSE and modified to encompass all areas of the Executive, Hospital Groups and Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs).The plans arose following an investigation by the Ombudsman into how public hospitals handle complaints.

The Ombudsman intends to publish a special casebook this year which is to include HSE complaints, and a progress report on the actions taken under each of the recommendations of his report.

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