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HCC Case Study: Apology

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Published on Apr 29, 2018

The Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) resolves complaints about healthcare and the handling of health records in Victoria, Australia. See hcc.vic.gov.au for details.

This case study is a real complaint we handled, with names and some details changed for privacy reasons.

THE COMPLAINT

Vanessa and Joel complained that during the birth of their child at a large public hospital, their doctor came in several times with a medical student without their consent.

The couple knew the student personally and found their presence stressful but felt awkward asking them to leave.

A complaint made to the hospital had received no response.


WHAT WE DID

We contacted the hospital to see what had happened.

Hospital staff said it was usual practice to seek consent and were unsure why it hadn’t happened in this case.

They were aware of this particular complaint and said a personal letter of apology from the doctor was on file but had never been sent to the couple.

The letter apologised for not seeking consent and said the incident served as a reminder to keep the patient at the center of clinical care at all times.


THE OUTCOME

The doctor’s apology was sent to the couple, along with an additional letter of apology from the hospital.

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