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Patient Council: Administrative errors can have serious consequences for individual patients – Focus on VGR

Patient Council: Administrative errors can have serious consequences for individual patients – Focus on VGR

Unsent referrals, late certificates to the Social Security Service (Försäkringskassan), or late test answers. When management fails, the negative consequences for the individual patient can be significant. This is demonstrated by the Patient Committee's report, which addresses 173 complaints about the administrative handling of health care in Västra Götaland.

Susan Tedesio

Simple administrative errors can pose a risk to patient safety and have significant negative consequences for the individual patient. It can easily lead to insecurity and anxiety and cause feelings of not being involved in or able to influence the care process. For the health care system, this means a lot of extra work, in part because patients often make frequent calls, says Susan Tedesio, chief of administration at the Office of Patient Councils.

During the past year (2023), 328 complaints were received at the Office of Patient Councils, where administrative treatment was mentioned as the main problem. The Patient Committee reviewed all complaints and 173 complaints formed the basis of the Committee's report 'Management – for the patient through care' on what a lack of management could mean for an affected patient.

The complaints relate to referrals, certificates, recalls, documents, prescriptions and test results, and target specialty care, primary care as well as dental care.

Referrals that don't arrive

Many patients tell us that they worry that the disease will have more serious consequences when delaying referral delays treatment, and patients feel that they themselves are forced to take responsibility for the referral arriving.

“In the referral response, I was informed that the investigation had not been completed. After pressure from the patient, the supplementary investigation was carried out, but according to the patient, the investigation was delayed because the wrong document was sent home. After the tests were completed, the referral was supposed to be sent, but the patient now has six Months later, I was informed that the reception had forgotten to send the referral.” (example from complaint)

When the Patient Council follows up on complaints, providers get an opportunity to respond, and the human factor is often cited as a reason for deficiencies in referral handling. It may be difficult to trace the direct causes, but lack of documentation, long processing times, and lack of custodians are some of the explanations given.

Financial pressures

Certificates that are not sent to the Social Security Agency (Försäkringskassan), or are sent late, are another area in which there are many complaints and cause anxiety and financial stress for patients.

“After the last operation, the notifier's sick leave will be extended and a new return visit will be scheduled. It took two months before the complainant received his sick certificate, which means that he had no income during this period. The notifier had to spend a long time contacting care and obtaining I received assistance regarding the certificate, and therefore the Social Security Service was unable to pay any compensation during this period.” (example from complaint)

Caregiver responses

In 69 of the 173 cases reviewed, the patient committee followed up with the caregiver and asked questions about the incident.

The Patient Committee wrote in its report: “In general, we could see in the caregivers’ answers that it could be difficult to investigate administrative errors, and it was sometimes unclear where in the chain the error had occurred. Often the incident was regretted, and in “Many complaints were said to be due to a human factor or a high workload. In all operations, there were sometimes clarifications in the responses that the person in charge was ill or absent for some other reason, and in the current complaints no one took up the case.”

Patients' voices can help care improve its management processes. In today's tense situation, care needs to manage its resources in an effective way, and the purpose of the report is that it can be used as a basis for care improvement work, says Susan Tedesio, chief of administration at the Office of Patient Councils. .

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Text: Andreas Krohn
[email protected]

Facts: Patients Committee

Link to the report

The main task of the Patients Committee is to appropriately assist patients to submit complaints to caregivers providing publicly financed care, health, medical and dental care, municipal health care and school health care in Västra Götaland and to obtain a response to the complaints by the caregiver.

The Patient Committee is an independent and impartial body. Investigators do not conduct medical assessments and do not take a position on whether the caregiver did right or wrong; that is a matter for those responsible for the operations of the care.