Filing Healthcare Complaints 

If you are in the hospital and need assistance resolving an issue promptly, or want to report a quality or safety concern, ask to speak with your nurse or any of these staff members:  the patient advocate, patient relations staff, head nurse, unit nursing director, or staff from the patient safety department. All hospital staff are trained to promptly elevate patient-family concerns when they are related to quality of care.

'Patient Complaints' are gifts to the organization you are complaining to. Why? Because if you don't tell them about something that went wrong or needs to be corrected, how will they know or improve? Sometimes, these will be really important quality of care issues such as:  'the nurse never took my IV port out before I was discharged'.  or 'I keep getting infections and watched my caregivers not wash their hands before they changed my incision dressing'. Anything to do with your safety or the quality of care you receive should be reported promptly.

Every hospital is required to have a 'Patient Advocate' or 'Patient Relations' office. These are the professionals who accept, investigate and respond to all patient complaints, whether they are in writing or verbal. If your complaint is in writing, they are required to respond in writing. 

'Less serious, but still important 'Patient Experience' issues like  "my room was cold" or "my room is very noisy" can be fixed quickly by letting your nurse or other hospital staff know.  Or you can ask about completing a hospital survey about your stay after discharge.   

Another reason patient complaints are important is that patients and their caregivers have a view of healthcare that no one else has: they witness what happens to them across the whole continuum of care from admission to discharge. This feedback can help hospitals improve or prevent it from happening to another patient or family.

 

Important Tips

Condition H Emergency Phone Number
If you are ever in a situation in a hospital when you don't feel safe or are afraid you could be harmed or die unless action is taken quickly, you (or a family member) can call a special hotline to get immediate help.

Most hospitals have a special phone program called 'Condition H' which stands for 'HELP'.  This number is usually posted in your room. If you don't see it, ask your nurse about it. When dialed, a medical team, called a Rapid Response Team is sent to your room to quickly respond.  It's kind of like calling an ambulance when you're in the hospital.

Keep a Folder or Journal
Keep track of your verbal and written communication with a hospital or complaint agency.  That way, you can go back to refresh your memory and know what still needs to be followed up on.

Giving Compliments

If you are happy with the care you received, put your comments in writing and send them to the facility CEO! (Chief Executive Officer). They will be shared far and wide. Here is a list of all NH hospitals and CEO names

Hospital Complaints

Anyone who wishes to file a formal complaint can contact the hospital's Patient Advocate or Patient Relations Office. You can call to register your feedback, but complaints put in writing have some advantages:

1. They are your own words (not conveyed through another person).
2. You have an official record of the date and details of your complaint
3.  When a complaint is received in writing, the hospital is required to respond in writing.

For a listing of all New Hampshire Hospitals and their contact information, click here.

If you have already filed a complaint with a hospital about a quality-of-care issue but are not satisfied with their response, these are agencies you can contact. If possible, it's best to put your complaint in writing either through an online complaint form, by email, or writing a letter.

New Hampshire Department of Facility Licensing 
Telephone: (603) 271-9039
E-mail: DHHS.HFA-Certifications@dhhs.nh.gov

* Note: For hospitals outside of NH, contact the state's Department of Facility Licensing, found on the state's government website and/or their Department of Health & Human Services

If You Are On Medicare

In addition to the NH Department of Facility Licensing (above), patients on Medicare who have quality-of-care concerns about a hospital, long term care facility (nursing home) or healthcare provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, etc), can also file a complaint through Medicare's Beneficiary Family Centered Care Program (BFCC). They have doctors who review complaints and the medical record, and keep you updated on their investigation. 

KEPRO Medicare Beneficiary Patient Complaints
888−319−8452 (toll-free); 216−447−9604 (local); 855−843−4776 (TTY); 833−868−4055 (toll-free fax)

For Medicare Patients in a Hospital Outside of NH 
Select your state from the drop-down menu.

Hospital Accreditation Agencies

The agencies listed below are not required to tell you how they investigated your compalint, nor do they have any power to regulate or issue penalties. But they do accept patient complaints, investigate them and respond to your complaint with a general summary.

DNV-GL Healthcare Complaint Form
As of 06/15/2020, these NH Hospitals are accredited by DNV-GL:
Concord Hospital, Eliot Hospital, Exeter Hospital, Franklin Hospital, Lakes Region Hospital, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Southern NH Medical Center. To search hospitals accredited by DNV-GL,  click here.

The Joint Commission (TJC)
As of 06/15/2020, TJC accredits these NH Hospitals: Catholic Medical Center, Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Lebanon, Parkland Medical Center, Portsmouth Regional, Wentworth Douglass Hospital. To search for other hospitals they accredit, click here or you can ask the hospital's patient advocate or patient relations staff for the name of their accreditation agency.

Health Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) .
As of 06/15/220, no NH hospital are accredited by HFAP. To search for hospitals ouside of NH they accredit,  click here .

Nursing Home Complaints


New Hampshire Department of Facility Licensing 

Telephone: (603) 271-9049 
E-mail: DHHS.HFA-Certifications@dhhs.nh.gov

New Hampshire Ombudsmen's Office
They investigate complaints or problems concerning residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) or nursing homes. They also provide advocacy services to nursing home residents.

KEPRO Medicare Beneficiary Patient Complaints
888−319−8452 (toll-free); 216−447−9604 (local); 855−843−4776 (TTY); 833−868−4055 (toll-free fax)

For Medicare Patients in a Nursing Home Outside of NH 
Select your state from the drop-down menu.

Drug & Medical Device Complaints


FDA MedWatch Program
Report problems and/or safety issues for medications, supplements, medical devices, medical products.

Physician or Healthcare Provider Complaints

 
NH Board of Medicine's Consumer Complaints 
Information on how to file a complaint against a physician or physician's assistant (PA).  Note: There is a five year limit from the time the incident occured to file a complaint. Here is their Consumer Complaint Form.

Federation of State Medical Boards (FSBM)
Listing of Boards of Medicine in every state

NH Board of Nursing Consumer Complaints
Information about how to file a complaint against an RN or LPN.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
Listing of Boards of Nursing in every state.

KEPRO Medicare Beneficiary Patient Complaints 
888−319−8452 (toll-free); 216−447−9604 (local); 855−843−4776 (TTY); 833−868−4055 (toll-free fax) 

For Medicare Beneficiary Complaints Outside of New England 
Select your state from the drop-down menu.

Medical Record Access or Privacy Complaints

You have rights to access your medical and to the privacy of your medical information under a federal law called the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act or 'HIPAA'. 

Most of the time, a hospital's Medical Record Department or Patient Relatons staff can help.  But if you're not satisfied, you can file a complaint with HIPAA:

HIPAA Patient Complaint Page 

Your Rights Under HIPAA

*For more detail on your rights, visit our Patients Rights page

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