Table 1

Unprofessional behaviour emerging from unsolicited healthcare complaints and the subsequent judgement by the Complaints Committee

No.ElementExample (s)Frequency in unsolicited healthcare complaints (no.)Frequency in judgements by Complaints committee (no.)
1.Medical complications and errorMedical error, unexpected complications, iatrogenic damage, medication administration error77103
2.Waiting for careAll theatres occupied, having to wait for surgery, no bed available for admission5245
3.Insufficient clarification/unclear informationInsufficient information is provided regarding reasons for delay, expected time of surgery, too much medical jargon4874
4.Disrespectful communicationCynicism, sarcasm, arrogance, eating while consulting, inappropriate smiling, etc4244
5.Lack of teamworkPoor communication between healthcare members, within and between specialties3427
6.Lack of sympathy and empathyInsensitivity to patients' concerns, not seriously dealing with patient worries, ignoring the human being behind the patient3334
7.Lack of reliabilityNot keeping promises regarding nature of scheduled operation, not visiting patient despite promises3018
8.Receiving confusing informationHearing conflicting, contradictory and frequently changing information by different doctors2820
9.Lack of respect for patients' and relatives' opinionNot listening to patients and/or relatives, ignore patients' or relatives' clinical observations2836
10.Lack of continuity of careEver changing and varying doctors and nurses2617
11.Lack of ad-hoc communicationRelatives not informed on change of ward, no change of time of surgery, no phone call received after surgery2525
12.Documentation problemsIncomplete records, missing charts, limited documentation2327
13.Insufficient careInsufficient ante-/post-mortem care (patient alone too long, not dressed in appropriate clothing), sometimes related to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolation2225
14.Lack of knowledge/experienceInsufficient medical/paramedical skills regarding catheterisation, wound care, plasters1920
15.Lack of responsibility and commitmentHealthcare member not committed to providing excellent care: hasty while doing venepunctures, treating physician not seen during admission1916
16.Insufficient infrastructure, facilitiesPoor maintenance/cleaning, insufficient software for opening radiology images from other hospitals, poor wheelchair maintenance1714
17.Problems with pain reliefInadequate changes in medication1512
18.Organisational issuesToo much bureaucracy on arrival ED, non-adequate test results reporting system, few operation theatres available1328
19.Difficulties regarding accessibility and approachabilityDifficulties making appointments for consultations and information sessions126
20.Discharge issuesPerceived too early discharge1212
21.Financial issuesLack of clarity regarding billing of delivered care1110
22.Provision of incorrect information to other healthcare membersProvide incorrect information regarding presumed personal relationships, and cohabitation to other healthcare members1016
23.IntimidationExerting excessive pressure, threatening98
24.Lack of scheduled information sessionsNo pre-planned, structured and planned meetings on progress regarding diagnosis and treatment87
25.Lack of leadershipLack of clarity regarding central coordination of care, who is in the lead?719
26.Lack of shared decision makingPlan of care not discussed with patient or relatives77
27.Violation of professional code of conduct regarding the privacy of the patient-doctor relationshipProvide medical information without patient authorisation78
28.Lack of honesty and self-reflectionNot admitting mistakes, not filing reports for near-misses610
29.Lack of patient/relatives' consentLack of consent regarding diagnostics and therapeutic interventions68
  • Professionalism aspects scored in a frequency of five or less in the primary complaint letters were not included in this table. Examples of these 17 remaining aspects are provided in the text.