How to Make Yourself COMPLAINT-PROOF!

Do you ever wonder who gets complained about? Look around at your colleagues and play a little game of detective with yourself.

One way to start is to find someone who is rude—in writing or in person. A very high percentage of our complaints stem from inappropriate lapses in what you might call “customer service” in any other business.

If rudeness doesn’t seem bad enough, find a physio who does not provide a thorough explanation before they touch the patient. Many of our complaints involve concerns about some element of consent. In lots of cases, the patient was hurt or surprised by the touch or the mobilization. In any other context (say at the movie theatre or in line at the bank), that kind of invasion of privacy would be considered assault.

Finally, and you won’t have to look far to find one of these, find a PT who has not ensured that both his or her patient charts and billing records are complete and accurate. A good proportion of our complaints come from people who don’t believe that physiotherapy was appropriately provided.

In many, many (far too many) of these cases, when we try to line up the billing invoices with the patient charts, we see records that don’t include treatment goals, objective progress measures or indication that there was regular reassessment.

Honestly folks, from the perspective of a third party (like a Committee or insurer reviewing the records) if you didn’t write it down, the conclusion will be that you did not do it.

These are our top 3 categories of complaint, for sure.

There are others, of course: among them, we hear from patients who doubt that the physio properly identified what was wrong with them; we hear from peers about off-side advertising practices; we hear from patients whose physios sold them products they feel were unnecessary or too expensive; we hear plenty of complaints about outright fraud and on occasion, horribly, we hear from patients who felt sexually abused by their physiotherapist

And we investigate them ALL.

Investigations are time-consuming and stressful for the physiotherapist and for the complainant.

So if you want to make your practice complaint-proof, here are my top four tips:

  1. Treat all your patients like cherished customers whose permission you need for every element of the transaction.
  2. Keep your financial and patient records clear and thorough.
  3. Sincerely pursue opportunities for continuing education (including talking over new developments and tough cases with trusted colleagues).
  4. Never, never, never breach patient-provider boundaries.