Why Patient Complaints Are Important

Patient complaints offer organizations rich sources of information – if you deal with them, document them and aggregate & analyze the information appropriately. This presentation outlines the ways in which patient complaints can help an organization improve its quality of care and patient satisfaction.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will describe the importance of service recovery and will understand one model for providing service recovery
  • Participants will describe one way of compiling and aggregating patient complaints
  • Participants will recognize that patient complaints can:
    Provide information on physicians, practice sites, medical centers & organizations with high risk of malpractice
  • Provide information regarding systems issues in practice sites, medical centers & organizations
  • Provide quality improvement information to healthcare professionals, practice sites, medical centers & organizations
  • Provide early warnings about potential risks and provide continued surveillance of healthcare professionals, practice sites, medical centers & organizations


About Dr. Jim Pichert
James (Jim) W. Pichert (M.S., Ph.D.) is an educational psychologist with special interests in learning and instruction. He is currently Professor of Medical Education at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he has been a faculty member since 1979. His earned his professional degrees, both in education, at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He received a B.S. in educational research from Bucknell University. Jim has published more than 150 articles in education and health-related journals. He has presented workshops on Effective Patient Teaching, Promoting Patient Adherence, Communication Skills for Difficult Situations and Identifying and Intervening with Physicians at High Risk of Lawsuits throughout the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Along with Dr. Jerry Hickson, Jim is a co-director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy. Together they develop strategies for identifying and intervening with health professionals who are associated with high numbers of patient and professional complaints. Jim and Dr. Hickson have presented many national workshops for physicians and healthcare executives on addressing patient dissatisfaction with medical services, communicating about adverse outcomes and errors, dealing with the disruptive healthcare professional and service recovery.