We are committed to improving the safety and quality of healthcare through an ongoing quality improvement approach.
We monitor all incoming complaints for patterns of provider practice and systemic trends. Complaints are a valuable source of feedback that provide the healthcare community with opportunities to learn and improve.
As Queensland's independent healthcare regulator, we collect and analyse information about:
Combining aspects of these information sources enables us to produce a basic but multi-dimensional, confidential provider profile for hospitals. This developmental work is ongoing.
We review profiles and, in conjunction with the provider, seek to share ideas and innovations in quality improvement as well as address any safety and quality concerns through a responsive regulation process. Where safety and quality concerns are identified:
- we write a confidential letter to the provider, detailing their profile at a hospital or individual practitioner level
- we may seek further information
- we ask the provider to demonstrate their legislative duty to improve.
Our aim is to support healthcare providers to improve the safety and quality of their services.
As a first step in measuring and managing hospital quality and risk, we have created prototype profiles of all 223 Queensland public and private hospitals using information about their compliance with our healthcare standards, complaints, investigation recommendations and Root Cause Analysis reports.
We will soon start sharing profiles with hospitals so local management can act on identified safety and quality risks. We also intend to share information about successful hospital safety and quality initiatives, so these can be implemented by other facilities. On an ongoing basis, we will monitor and measure improvement.
Ultimately, we are working towards publicly sharing the improvements made through profiling.
Profiling individual practitioners
Doctors (medical practitioners) account for the majority (78%) of individual practitioner complaints we receive, but represent 17% of the registered healthcare professional workforce. This may be because doctors provide more complex - and therefore higher risk - health services, or because consumers regard doctors as having primary responsibility for healthcare.
In a pilot study of complaints data dating back to 1992 (when our predecessor the Health Rights Commission was formed), we found just under one third (10,308) of the 32,223 complaints received involved doctors. About 5% of doctors registered in Queensland were the subject of a complaint to us*.
Doctors who are the subject of four or more complaints have substantially more complaints than their peers (+2 standard deviations more than the average number of complaints received about their peers: average = 1.6 complaints). Doctors within this group are more likely to be male and some specialties, such as surgery, may elicit more complaints. This is similar to doctors who are at risk of litigation.
We are working with other health complaint entities, the Medical Board of Australia and universities, to develop a national approach to identifying and responding to complaint prone doctors.
*Based on complaints received about a sample of medical practitioners (n=338) between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2010.
Lowering the risk of complaint
As an individual practitioner you can lower your risk of being the subject of a complaint by:
- developing effective communication skills
- ensuring comprehensive pre and post operative education
- following a best practice complaints process in your local setting
(read the national standard about complaint management and our tips on handling complaints)
- participating in reflective practice activities, such as clinical audit
- contacting your professional association for support or advice.