Patients’ rights are a concern when it comes to dealing with hospitals, especially when the conversation involves lodging a complaint. When people come up against a medical giant, they often don’t know where to begin or how to proceed. Attorney James H. Schuster met with the Ohio Patients’ Rights group to discuss what recourse individuals have.
“We’re looking for some kind of remedy or protection or recourse from being banned [from lodging a complaint] by hospitals in Cleveland,” said Tom Burton of the Ohio Patients' Rights, a nonprofit.
Schuster said hospitals’ participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs holds them responsible to live up to certain requirements detailed in the Conditions of Participation, which say hospitals need to have a process for handling grievances quickly and must act on that process unless they put it in writing that another committee is going to do so.
Even though this federal statute establishes rules for hospitals in the area of hearing out and resolving grievances, individuals still have to do some leg work. The first step is to know when they have a grievance.
“A complaint is not a grievance, but a grievance is a complaint,” Schuster said. “You’ve got a complaint. You’re going to raise an issue. If it’s not resolved right there on the spot either written or verbally, it would be considered to be a grievance.”
It is important to know the difference because any documentation set up to aid the individual in this case deals solely with grievances not mere complaints.
People also need to go about lodging their complaints and grievances in a responsible manner, Schuster said.
“You have a right to escalate [your complaint] to a point,” Schuster said. But people “can’t do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want in order to either defame or harass or create escalating problems for the institution.”
Rules are set up to govern health care institutions, as well as individuals, when it comes to the airing of grievances. Should a hospital violate these rules, individuals are permitted to make their complaints known and the result could be the institution’s exclusion from Medicare and Medicaid.
Those wanting to learn more about their rights as patients can send an email to email@example.com or call 216-221-2724.