Marie M. Bismark, M.B., Ch.B., L.L.B., M.B.H.L., Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Ronald J. Paterson, L.L.B., Peter B. Davis, Ph.D., and David M. Studdert, L.L.B., Sc.D., M.P.H.
M. M. Bismark, T. A. Brennan, R. J. Paterson et al., "Relationship Between Complaints and Quality of Care in New Zealand: A Descriptive Analysis of Complainants and Non-Complainants Following Adverse Events," Quality and Safety in Health Care, Feb. 2006 15(1):17–22.
Patients' complaints about adverse events can be used to help understand and address problems with the quality and safety of care. The authors of this Commonwealth Fund–supported study sought to understand how closely complaints track actual injuries and are thus representative of broader quality problems.
The researchers estimated how frequently adverse events led to complaints to New Zealand's Health and Disability Commissioner and examined the characteristics of patients who did and did not file complaints. They found:
While most medical injuries do not result in complaints, those that do are severe and thus offer a valuable "window" on threats to patient safety, the authors conclude. The fact that the elderly, those of Pacific ethnicity, and the poor are less likely to complain than other patients raises troubling questions about disparities in access to and use of the complaints process.