Photo: Dan Saelinger

Photo: Dan Saelinger

Advocating for yourself and your loved ones in a health care situation is one of the most important jobs you may ever do. It can be difficult to be an effective advocate because the health care system is complex and sometimes stacked up against the patient. Every patient has a right to safe, quality care. If you don’t think you’re getting the care you need, we recommend Public Citizen’s fantastic guide for where to complain, written by Alan Levine. Levine, member of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Network, writes:

Most health care providers want to do their best and serve their patients well. Feedback—good and sometimes not so good—is important and generally welcome information that they can use to continuously improve the quality of care. So, don’t be afraid. Ask questions! Speak up!

If you’ve been harmed, someone should listen. If you file a complaint and don’t receive an answer that satisfies you, we still think it’s important that you sent it because agencies like your state medical board and Medicare need to hear from consumers that have been harmed. If you feel like you haven’t been heard, please share your story by completing one of our questionnaires and let us know what happened.

Complaining about your health care experience is not about being a pest, but about getting the help you need and holding providers accountable.  According to a recent Consumer Reports national survey of recently hospitalized patients, one in five respondents worried about being “a bother or a pest” to busy hospital staff and 13 percent were concerned that they would be labeled “difficult.” Those who felt very uncomfortable asking questions about their care and the steps being taken to keep them safe were 50 percent more likely to experience at least one medical error, compared with those who felt very comfortable. Actively engaging in your health care can lead to better health outcomes and lower costs.

Have you ever complained about a health care provider? What happened as a result?