Healthcare complaints, made by patients about the care that they receive, are an underutilised source of data on the healthcare quality. Patients have a unique perspective on their healthcare, and can often identify issues that staff within an organisation cannot see. There are two projects currently running in NUIG in relation to using the potential of patient complaints to improve quality of care.

Learning from complaints about hospital care

PI: Dr Paul O’Connor; Co-PI: Dr Sinéad Lydon

Funder: Health Research Board

This HRB-funded project aims to unlock the added potential of analysing secondary care complaints in Ireland using the Healthcare Complaints Analysis and Tool (HCAT). The analysis will identify areas of high risk for patient harm (hot spots), and the areas in care which are difficult to oversee by using means of quality and safety measurement and monitoring (blind spots). Recommendations will be made to the stakeholders, and through a consultation process, outline a number of potential interventions for quality and safety improvement.

Learning from complaints about general practice

Doctoral Research: Emily O’Dowd; Supervisors: Dr Paul O’Connor & Dr Sinéad Lydon

Funder: NUI Galway Hardiman PhD Scholarship

This project is concerned with examining the potential of complaints made about general practice settings to identify areas for quality improvement in this context. A complaints analysis tool, called HCAT(GP), was developed to analyse complaints about general practice. Following the development of the tool, a sample of GP complaints were categorised using the HCAT(GP), and blind spots and hot spots were identified from the subsequent analysis. It was found that both the consultation within the GP surgery, and the follow-up/referral stage of the patient care pathway, were hot spots for harm, and that there were blind spots around the transitional points of care (i.e., accessing GP care, and follow-up/referral).