Southern patients make more complaints

The number of complaints made by patients to the Southern District Health Board over treatment, attitude, care and diagnosis have increased - but the board says that is a positive thing.

The complaints jumped from 15 last year to 25 in the first half of 2012, a report from the Health and Disability Commissioner says.

At 97.76 complaints per 100,000 patient discharges, the Southern DHB is above the 80.76 national rate.

It is also fifth-highest of all 20 DHBs for complaints made to the Health and Disability Commissioner from January 1 to June 30.

The number excludes complaints to the health board that have not been reported to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

The report from the commissioner will go before the hospital advisory committee this morning in Invercargill, ahead of the monthly board meeting tomorrow.

Hospital advisory committee chairman Paul Menzies said the figure came from a better system of documenting incidents and showed that staff trusted they would not be "crucified" for reporting mistakes.

The report would be used to point out matters that needed to be worked on, he said.

Nationally, a steady increase was seen across all health boards since 2010. A total of 355 complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner about care provided was reported for January to June. This was a 37 per cent increase in the previous four six-month periods.

For the Southern health board, the highest number of complaints were for surgery (six), and overall public hospital care (four). Mental health services had three and inpatient mental health services, medical and multiple all had two.

While the report on the data says complaints citing concerns about inadequate treatment were reduced, the percentage of complaints about attitude and manner were greater in this period than in any of the six-month periods since the second half of 2010.

Twenty-one of the 25 complaints have been closed by the Health and Disability Commissioner. Of these, 12 have been resolved with no further action, one was referred to advocacy services, one was referred to the Psychologists Board, and one was resolved by the parties working together.

The Health and Disability Commissioner referred four of the complaints back to the Southern DHB to be resolved.

The Southland Times