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Clinicians' and managers' responses to patients' complaints: A survey in hospitals of the Milan area

Roberto Natangelo (Italian Society for Quality of Health Care, Milan, Italy)

Clinical Governance: An International Journal

ISSN: 1477-7274

Article publication date: 23 October 2007




The purpose of this paper is to discuss the analysis of complaints lodged by patients and how the complainants' letters are handled by health boards and clinicians.


A retrospective analysis of patients' complaints lodged with an independent voluntary citizens' association in Milan and, at the same time, against the hospital administration offices or the consultants and responses returned by the hospitals in reply to the patients. The authors assessed: the reasons for the complaints according to the citizen; the nature of the complaint according to a medical expert revue; and the handling of the complaint process by managers.


For 83 of 151 people (55 per cent), the reason was compensation for injury or pain. According to the medical review, in 54 cases (35.7 per cent), the main themes emerging were mainly “perceived” poor quality of care. Together, or alone, were problems of “technical” quality of care. A total of 94 complaints (62.2 per cent) had been dealt with by the Health Boards, but 48 cases (31.7 per cent) were dealt with by the legal office or the insurance company who replied without showing evidence that they had discussed events with clinicians. Many times the managers did not undertake a systematic investigation, leaving complainants dissatisfied with the process and the outcome.


This paper is the first to report the results of an assessment process of complaints lodged via an independent citizens' association in Italy.



Natangelo, R. (2007), "Clinicians' and managers' responses to patients' complaints: A survey in hospitals of the Milan area", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 260-266.



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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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