This article is written by Quin Hoskins. Having studied law and several science-related subjects at degree level, this has provided him with the perfect foundation to cover an eclectic range of topics in his freelance writing career. From the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs to countless travel sites, he is proud to be associated with companies and organizations that are definitely at the top of their game. The flexibility of his freelance writing business allows him to devote a significant proportion of his time to study and is finishing his last course – out of 6 – towards his LLB (Hons) this year. He is also an avid traveler and has proudly visited 40 other countries to date, with much more planned for the future.
As a freelancer in the medical industry, no matter which country you reside in, there are minimum standards that you must adhere to if and when you ever have to address a complaint made against you. Many states will have official government bodies put in place to watch over the actions and activities of all medical providers, and they will also apply sanctions where necessary. With this in mind, you'll need to know what you’re doing at all times and be ready to implement the best complaint resolution policy when needed. Here are 5 complaint resolution best practices for medical freelancers!
1. Be Sure to Follow the Laws and Regulations in Your Home State
This sounds obvious, I know, but it is important to remind ourselves of the most fundamental element to keep complaints at bay: namely to observe the laws and regulations of your country on how to deal with patients at all times. The onus is upon you here to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations that are pertinent to you; moreover, it is important to schedule refreshers on a regular basis whereby you remind yourself of your legal duties and become acquainted with any changes that have recently occurred within the industry.
2. When a Complaint Has Been Made
If and when a claim has been made against you, it is of vital importance that you address it and never ignores it in the hope it will simply go away. At this stage, you need to carefully listen to the grievance that has been made against you and do your level best to remain professional and impartial. Try to place yourself in the shoes of the complainant: can you see that a mistake was made at some point along the line that gave rise to this complaint? Hopefully, you will be able to respond in a highly professional manner – as your industry demands – and resolve the matter at this earliest stage.
3. Unable to Resolve the Initial Complaint
No matter how you try to get around the issue, if you just cannot resolve the complaint straight away with the complainant, you must escalate the case to the next level. You may not be able to see where the complainant is coming from. However, a court of law might. Therefore, you have to take all matters exceptionally seriously.
This is where you will need to approach another individual whom you respect within the medical industry. This could be a fellow healthcare freelancer, a trusted client in the healthcare industry, or anyone else who has a sufficient standing to be able to help resolve the matter.
It is important not to make a huge a song and dance about this. Simply have the trusted third party investigate the matter and adjudicate on the issue as impartially as they possibly can back to you. Between the two of you, you will be able to determine the possible ramifications of the complaint. This may result in any of the following findings:
• Would it appear that the complainant is wrong in some way? In which case, this would very gently need to be pointed out to the complainant, and this should hopefully be the end of the matter.
• If the trusted third party concurs with the complainant over a minor issue, an apology will need to be offered to the complainant straight away. Along with a guarantee that you will do everything in your power to ensure there is no repeat in the future.
• If the trusted third party agrees with the complainant over an issue that is likely to have legal ramifications: this is where you will need to be more careful in how you deal with the matter. Do not offer an apology straight away; instead, you will need to approach a legal advocate who specializes in your industry to assist you in dealing with this matter.
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4. The Two Stage Complaint Resolution Process
So, an efficient complaint resolution process could be implemented in two stages:
- Stage 1
Will be where you attempt to resolve a complaint yourself. As we have said above, this will mean you have to listen to the complaint that has been made against you and try to be as impartial as possible. This is a tough skill to display; nevertheless, it is essential you aim for impartiality as far as possible. If the complainant’s minor complaint (e.g. no possibility of any legal ramifications) has merit, you must issue an immediate apology.
- Stage 2
Stage 2 is where Stage 1 has failed, and it is necessary for you to escalate the matter to the next level. This requires a trusted third party who is connected with the medical industry and in a high enough position to be able to adjudicate on the issue efficiently.
Remember, there are two ways to move forward at this stage, depending on the seriousness of the complaint about minor grievances – a simple, heartfelt apology should suffice. For more severe complaints, do not forward an apology straight away to the complainant. You will need to instruct a legal advocate if your trusted third party believes the complainant has grounds to pursue a legal claim against you.
5. The Most Serious Industry in Which to be a Freelancer
I shouldn’t need to remind you that you work within one of the most seriously-regulated industries in the world. Every action you take could result in consequences in some way shape or form. Furthermore, we live in a world that is more litigious now than it has ever been. Therefore, you do have to stay ahead of the game at all times and carefully monitor everything you do when working as a freelance medical professional.
If the legalities of the industry in which you work are of particular concern to you, you might like to continually check this blog over the coming weeks as I plan to provide you with an overview of the tort of negligence very soon. This is the area of law where medical negligence claims derive and every medical freelancer worth their salt should always remain abreast of this knowledge at all times.
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