Putting things right...in writing

HIROC’s Letter Writing Guide offers practical tips on crafting thoughtful response letters

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 – Ellen Gardner

As with most difficult and painful experiences, there is usually an upside. And so it is with complaint letters into your healthcare organization. On the surface these letters create a feeling of unease and discomfort because you know responding in the right way to a complaint is a tough task. But that all-important upside to producing a satisfying response is reinforcing the fact that you are part of a caring and professional organization.

“We know our organizations do more things right than wrong,” says HIROC Senior Healthcare Risk Management Specialist Lois Hales, “but when things do go wrong and there are misunderstandings, a response is required.”

To assist you in this difficult yet necessary task, HIROC produced Responding to Complaints & Concerns: A Letter Writing Guide for Healthcare Providers and Administrators.

“There are many reasons why individuals send complaints into healthcare organizations,” says Lois. “They range from looking for an apology for a negative or unexpected outcome, wanting someone to be held accountable for what happened, and in some cases it’s a request for compensation.”

Most people who complain want reassurance that action will be taken to reduce the likelihood that a similar incident will happen again.

Here are some of the practical tips offered in the guide:
  • Four easy steps for putting things right when a complaint is received
  • The complaint response letter layout
  • Sample statements for the letter
  • Writing a response letter to a challenging individual
As the Guide thoughtfully shows, responding to complaints and concerns is more of an art than a science. They may look like words on a page to you, but your carefully crafted letter will go a long way to showing individuals that they’ve been listened to.

Ellen Gardner is Senior Specialist, Communications and Marketing, HIROC