Page Section: Centre Content Column

Other

Consumer-centered complaints process

Unhappy consumer chooses referral to Commissioner

An open disclosure failure

Misleading information about hearing aids

Providing a seamless advocacy service

A speedy resolution

Private surgery

The importance of Tikanga in achieving resolution for whānau

Getting occupational therapy assistance

The value of face-to-face meetings

Complainant seeks apology after Coroner's findings

Long wait for dermatology appointment

 

 

 

 

Requesting a second opinion

ENT Department ~ Right 4 ~ appropriate standards ~ Ear Clinic ~ hearing aids ~ audiology assessment ~ grommets

Following insertion of grommets the complainant told an advocate that she had expected a follow-up appointment for her daughter but nothing arrived. She went back to the Ear clinic but it had closed early. Concerned that her daughter wasn't responding when spoken to she consulted her GP who made a referral for an audiology assessment. Following the assessment the complainant was told her daughter had severe hearing loss in her left ear and she would be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist. 

The consumer was seen by an ENT specialist who advised there was scarring on the ear drum which may have occurred during surgery. The doctor asked if anyone else in the family suffered hearing loss as it may be genetic. The pair was then referred to another specialist who did blood tests and a CAT scan.  These tests were done in March/April.  When, some months later the complainant had not heard anything about the results she contacted the clinic and was advised by a doctor "Oh nothing serious, she can still hear in her right ear".  "Don't worry mum, if she's not listening, it's because she's deaf in the left ear". 

As a result of that information the complainant requested her GP refer the consumer for a second opinion. The GP advised her that there was a long waiting list. By this stage she had reached the end of her tether.

She had the following issues she wanted answers to:

  • Why did the Ear Clinic not observe its advertised opening hours? 
  • Why is the consumer being sent to so many different specialists? 
  • Why has the consumer been refused hearing aids when her hearing loss affects her learning and is also a safety issue?  
  • What were the results of the blood test and CAT scan?
  • Why does the consumer have to go back on yet another waiting list?

Her desired outcomes were:

  • To get hearing aids for the consumer
  • To have the providers working together to get the best possible outcome for the consumer

Various options were discussed including writing a letter of complaint, contacting the DHB staff directly to arrange a meeting, having advocacy support throughout the process or just when the complainant felt it necessary. After considering the options the complainant requested the advocate phone the customer services manager while she was present. She wanted a meeting arranged to discuss her concerns and get answers to her questions. 

The complainant decided to take her sister with her to the meeting and contacted the advocate following the meeting to say the issues had been resolved and that her daughter would be given hearing aids. She requested the advocacy file be closed. 

Go to top

 

Consumer-centered complaints process

Right 10 ~ Right to timely complaints process

With the passage of time it became apparent that an issue had arisen with a local health provider not meeting appropriate timeframes for responding to consumer complaints.

As a result a meeting was held with the manager and a representative from the advocacy service. It was agreed that a further meeting take place with the service department management team where advocates could advise staff about the complaint process and provider obligations to respond to complaints in a timely manner.

The discussions were positive as attendees were interested in how they could improve their process for consumers and how they could better monitor the process within their respective departments.

It was agreed that going forward the attendees would be willing to continue further engagement via meeting with the advocacy service to guage progress and further improvements they could make.

Go to top

 

Unhappy consumer chooses referral to Commissioner

Spinal unit ~ Right 4 ~ Appropriate standards ~ Spinal injury ~ Life threatening infections

A consumer was sent to a spinal unit for four months following a motorbike accident where he sustained a permanent spinal injury. He also suffered ongoing infections, two of which were life threatening and resulted in the removal of his bladder and prostate.

He felt that the management of his care was not appropriate and that the removal of his organs could have been avoided. He said that he had followed instructions and done everything possible to avoid infection. He did not feel he was ever given a long term care plan and did not know what options were available to him.

He had already had a meeting with the provider but did not feel that this was successful and that there was very little achieved. He was a good self advocate and had been keeping his own records of discharge notes and appointments.

The consumer wanted some answers as to long-term care options available to him and the risks and side effects of any possible treatment. He asked for support from the advocacy service to draft a letter to the provider. He did not want to meet.

A letter to the provider was sent and then responded to in detail. The consumer was unhappy with the response. He said despite it being detailed and comprehensive he remained unhappy and would like the advocate's support to take the matter to the Commissioner.

The consumer was aware that the Commissioner does not investigate all complaints he receives but still chose to have the matter referred. 

Go to top

 

An open disclosure failure

DHB ~ Right 4 ~ Legal standards ~ Right 5 ~ Effective communication ~ Right 6 ~ Full information

Aconsumer underwent a procedure to establish what was wrong with her health and why she had persistent vomiting. As part of the diagnostic procedure her bowel was perforated resulting in the need for surgery.

The consumer said she received neither an explanation nor an apology from the hospital and the original problem with her health remained untreated. 

Due to her poor health the consumer decided that instead of meeting with the provider she wanted the advocate to support her in writing to the DHB to express her concern.

The response from the DHB contained an apology, an ACC claim form and an appointment for follow-up on her original health issue.

She was pleased with the outcome and the support the advocate had given her to write her letter. 

Go to top

 

Misleading information about hearing aids
Audiology Service ~ Right 6 ~ fully informed ~hearing aids
A consumer contacted an advocate after feeling she had been misled by an audiologist about which hearing aid would be best for her type of hearing loss. Through a second opinion she had learned that there were better devices available. 
Having considered the options for addressing her complaint, the consumer sought assistance from the advocate to write to the provider. The audiologist responded but the consumer was not satisfied with the explanations regarding the communication and misinformation, and decided to take up the offer of a meeting.  
The advocate supported the consumer to meet with the Director and Clinical Manager.  They had also arranged for a NZSL interpreter. The consumer restated her concerns and as a result the provider apologised for not ensuring the consumer had understood the key information. 
They also advised that when they checked the consultation records they found that not all information had been recorded so they did not dispute the consumer's account of the appointment and offered her a refund. They said they would look into how they could improve their systems and would offer more training to the audiologists. 
The consumer was extremely happy with the outcome of the meeting.

Misleading information about hearing aids

Audiology Service ~ Right 6 ~ Fully informed ~ Hearing aids

A consumer contacted an advocate after feeling she had been misled by an audiologist about which hearing aid would be best for her type of hearing loss. Through a second opinion she had learned that there were better devices available. 

Having considered the options for addressing her complaint, the consumer sought assistance from the advocate to write to the provider. The audiologist responded but the consumer was not satisfied with the explanations regarding the communication and misinformation, and decided to take up the offer of a meeting.  

The advocate supported the consumer to meet with the Director and Clinical Manager.  They also arranged for a NZSL interpreter.

The consumer restated her concerns and as a result the provider apologised for not ensuring the consumer had understood the key information. 

They also advised that when they checked the consultation records they found that not all information had been recorded so they did not dispute the consumer's account of the appointment and offered her a refund. They said they would look into how they could improve their systems and would offer more training to the audiologists. 

The consumer was extremely happy with the outcome of the meeting.

Go to top

 

 

Providing a seamless advocacy service

A consumer's complaint was formally referred to the advocacy service by the Health & Disability Commissioner. The advocate assigned to assist the consumer contacted him to discuss the resolution options available.. The consumer felt that the best way to proceed was to meet with the providers and the advocate duly arranged the meeting.

Due to unforseen circumstances the advocate who had made all the initial contacts was unable to attend the meeting and rather than delay the meeting another advocate was assigned. The new advocate familiarised herself with the file, contacted the consumer who was pleased that the advocate was so well versed in what the issues were and agreed to go ahead with the meeting. The meeting with the providers went well and the consumer felt that he had been able to have his concerns addressed very effectively with the support of both advocates.

Go to top

 

A speedy resolution

Private hospital ~ Call button ~ Fall ~ Wheelchair

The family of a resident in a private hospital contacted an advocate about the length of time it was taking for staff to respond to her call button. This had been a particular problem when the consumer wanted to go to the toilet. The consumer had terminal cancer and fell out of her wheelchair trying to get there herself.

The concerns were taken seriously by the manager who arranged a meeting for the next day. The manager heard what the family had to say, and gave them assurances that she would look into the matters raised and contact them with her findings and actions that would be commenced that day. 

Her responses and speedy action resulted in satisfaction for all parties.

Go to top

 

 

Private surgery

Surgery ~ Private care ~ Hidden cost ~ Right to be fully informed ~ Right 6(b)

A consumer contacted an advocate as she felt she had not been fully informed. She had chosen to have an operation in private and had agreed to the costs presented to her in advance.

However after the surgery she was required to wear a 'moon boot' which cost $280.00. This was an additional cost she had not been told about.

After considering her options the consumer decided to approach the provider directly. The provider advised that as most surgery done privately is paid for by ACC or private medical insurance he hadn't thought to mention the cost.

He then advised that it wasn't really necessary for her to have the boot and took it back agreeing to give the consumer a credit. The consumer was happy with this outcome.

Go to top

 

 

The importance of Tikanga in achieving resolution for whānau

An advocate facilitated a successful resolution hui in partnership with a local Kaumatua to ensure that:

  • the protocols of the Marae were respected
  • a safe process for all was maintained
  • te reo Māori was used appropriately
  • Kuia and Kaumatua were fully informed about the complaint and resolution process
  • whänau of the deceased consumer were kept informed
  • there were opportunities for other whänau and friends to express their concerns and grief in an environment they felt comfortable in
  • there were opportunities for questions and answers.

The outcome was very positive for the surviving partner who now felt less anger and frustration. She realised that the provider did all they could to save her partner at the time and believes they were genuinely sorry for her loss and that of her whānau.

This process provided a good example of how Tikanga Māori/cultural protocols can be particularly valuable when working to resolve issues including grief.

Go to top

 

 

Getting occupational therapy assistance

A consumer was having difficulty getting in and out of her hospital bed as it was too high, and as a result she was sleeping in her wheel chair and getting pressure sores. She had left several messages for the occupational therapists to contact her as she wanted someone to visit her and suggest ways she could transfer to and from bed. The consumer believed the lack of response from the occupational therapists was because they had argued during a recent admission to hospital.

An advocate assisted the consumer to write a letter of complaint, in which the consumer also included a message about wanting to restore the relationship.

The occupational therapists contacted her as soon as they received the letter and apologised for the breakdown in communication.  They explained that the argument had no relation to her ongoing care and support, and it was just a matter of messages not being passed on. A few days later an occupational therapist visited and organised a new bed. 

The consumer felt a lot better about what had happened and the future picture was brighter now that she was confident to voice her opinions in a strength-based way without fearing any consequences.

Go to top

 

The value of face-to-face meetings

A consumer contacted her local advocate after a disappointing response to her complaint from a hospital. Despite receiving a twelve-page response, the key points of her complaint were not addressed and the letter contained conflicting information. After discussing the options, the consumer decided she wanted advocacy support to meet with the provider.

The advocate assisted the consumer to clarify the issues that had not been addressed in the provider's letter as well as the additional issues arising from the response. The advocate then assisted her to write to the provider with an outline of the issues to be discussed at a meeting with the advocate to support her.

At the meeting the consumer was able to discuss her concerns. As the provider had been given information in advance of the issues to be discussed and what would resolve the matter, they were able to respond in a positive way. This included coming prepared with a written response which they were able to discuss with the consumer and which she was able to take away at the end of the meeting. When the advocate and consumer debriefed following the meeting, the consumer said she was delighted with the result.

Go to top

 

 

 

Complainant seeks apology after Coroner's findings

A woman sought advocacy support to write to a district health board. She wanted both an apology and an assurance that the Coroner's findings in respect of her husband's death would lead to changes in procedures to prevent a similar incident in the future.

The complainant was happy with the district health board's response, which included an explanation of what had happened, what was being changed and an apology.

Go to top

 

 

Long wait for dermatology appointment

A consumer had a skin condition which required medication that could only be prescribed by a dermatologist. Her GP had made two referrals to the dermatology department within three months, but neither resulted in her receiving an appointment. While her condition was not life threatening, it was acute, in the GP's opinion was worsened by stress.

With advocacy support, the consumer chose to write to the manager of booking services. She explained the stresses she had recently undergone and how this was impacting on her health. The consumer chose to quote Right 4 in her letter stating "services are required to be provided in the manner consistent with my needs…and…in a manner that minimises the potential harm to, and optimizes the quality of my life".

Within a month she was phoned by the hospital to say that a specialist had agreed to see her because of her letter. They requested she ask her GP to forward another referral and stated that she would most likely be seen by the dermatologist within three months.

The consumer was overjoyed to hear this and thanked the advocate for her help and guidance, saying that she had just about given up hope.

Page Section: Right Content Column