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Client complaint, help please

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by Simone Lee, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. Simone Lee

    Simone Lee Active Member

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    HI Everyone,
    I am feeling pretty upset after seeing a client who attended for a corn. He stated on his form that he was there for the corn and didnt mention needing anything else.

    I asked at the end of the treatment if he needed anything else as I do this as standard after a complaint years ago from a client about not checking if they needed anything else.

    The wife came in, furious that I hadn't provided the 'full treatment' i.e. cut nails etc.

    I was shocked as I had no idea he was there for nail cutting and we dont cut everybodys nails who comes through the door. in fact some people really dont want their nails cut.

    She claims to be taking this further and I was just wanting peoples thoughts on what you do. Do you cut everybodys nails? If they specifically say they are here for a particular problem do you treat the problem identified or also go on the do a nail cut??
    thoughts appreciated. ta
  2. Lab Guy

    Lab Guy Well-Known Member

    You asked the patient if there was anything else he wanted addressed, so you did not do anything wrong. I realize that when people yell at me, its usually not about me but about them. They have a lot of pent-up anger over their own issues and they want to project it onto someone else. Of course, it does not work, they still stay miserable.

    Here in the USA, if they are over 65 we commonly trim their corns, calluses as well as debride their nails if they are mycotic and thick or ingrown. If they are normal looking nails, we do not trim them, they can go to a Pedicurist for that.

  3. footballista

    footballista Welcome New Poster

    Chin up- he probably kicked her in bed and she is sick of it!

    I use variations of that line too, and think that you did the right thing. However, it mightn't hurt you to make-good for your own piece of mind that the matter is resolved; trim up the nails for him and while at it talk about the range of conditions that you see and that there is no set "full service" as everyone is different- let him know its also a consent issue and that its in his interest that someone doesn't just go cutting,poking and prodding without asking.
  4. Simone Lee

    Simone Lee Active Member

    thanks footballista. As the day goes on i am starting to feel better.
    what did it for me was that I did try to make good.
    I rang her and offered to 'make up' for it for free and she wouldnt have a bar of it. Just kept saying that she was taking the matter further. She was still so enraged and nothing I said helped at all.

    I dont know, the world would be better without people sometimes!!!

    here's to getting over it!
  5. footballista

    footballista Welcome New Poster

    document that call and enjoy a stroll and a brew down by the water on this 29degree day! done and done :)
  6. NWhite

    NWhite Member

    It will come to absolutely nothing. It's a sign that you are a decent health practitioner that you care as much as you do. Unfortunately having a dozen people tell you this won't make you feel any better about it.

    The worst part is that this will happen to you again, in some shape or form, if you remain in this industry. You just wont care as much!
  7. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

    Happened to me as a very green pod. The upshot of it was, the wife was sick to death to caring for her husband who was housebound after a CVA, and it hampered her lifestyle. The man apologised next time on a one to one basis. Think the wife has some mental health issues as well.

    If you took it bad, it means you care about your professionalism.
  8. One thing I have learned in the 27 years of working in the same office with orthopedic surgeons is that they really don't take this type of behavior from patients or let it bother them.

    Here are just a few of my favorites that the orthopedists I have worked with have told their patients when they threaten "recourse" against them by "reporting them":

    1. "Take a number and get in line."

    2. "And please also notify your congressman, your senator, our governor and President Obama, while you're at it."

    You must become the teflon-coated podiatrist, when the **** is thrown onto your back, just let the **** slide off and get on with the rest of your day.

    Good luck.:drinks
  9. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    Hi Simone

    You've done nothing wrong at all, and don't worry about them 'taking it further'; if they did then they'd end up as a laughing stock.

    Cheer up, have a beer (or a wine) and remember, it could be worse; you could be Jonathan Trott!


  10. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Before I retired I used to be Area Director, Podiatry in South Western Sydney and as such had the pleasure of dealing with the "I'll take it further" complaints. There is no basis for a complaint here. Pour yourself something cold and chill. I'm afraid this sort of thing is very common and used to reduce some of my staff literally to tears, but I wouldn't have employed them if they weren't caring people, so they did get their feelings hurt. Chin up, dust yourself down, tomorrows another day.
  11. jos

    jos Active Member

    Was he cranky ? Or was it just the wife? She must be a nightmare to live with.....

    I don't really think she has any right to complain about the treatment, because she is not the patient, he is! She won't get 'any further' with the complaint, because who is going to listen to her rants?

    Like the others said, it does upset your day but don't take any notice- you get tougher the longer you work in this business and you soon build your patient base with lovely, loyal people that you enjoy seeing every couple of months :)
  12. RebeccaPod

    RebeccaPod Member

    Just to add to everyone else's reply. You treated the patient for what they originally requested. When you asked at the end if they needed any other treatment your patient did not say nail cuttings.
    If you were then to cut his nails because they were long you would have been going against HIS consent. If he had some reduce mental capacity then I would understand her a little however she was not in the treatment room.

    Wait until you receive a formal complaint from her and go from there. I've learned over the years that there is no point in worrying over something you can not control. You did the right things in sharing it with your fellow pods and you've gone beyond what the patients wife is entitled to.

    Good luck and keep us informed

    Rebecca x
  13. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    Simone - the ones that act like this towards you are not the ones you need as patients :) At our clinic we educate our patients that nothing is routine - we do not cut toenails on every patient that walks through the door - nor should they expect it. We do (as you did) ask every patient on every consultation "what can we do for you today?" We then get a clear and concise response from which we need to work. Don't sweat it.
  14. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Me too, on the don't worry about it.

    I've worked with some Pods, when they notice long nails, will ask, "since your in, do you want me to cut your nails for you?" The worst ones are the vague complaints that you spend a good long time trying to figure out and then at the end ask, Oh, could you refill my pain medication prescription, or could you fill out my disability papers. (When there is no obvious disability) Especially, when you are already running late.

  15. surfboy

    surfboy Active Member

    As others have said, you must not put up with this sort of abuse. You obviously have a caring approach to your patients which is why you rang the wife on the phone. But please, do not pander and become subservient to her. As a result of this abuse from the wife, I would inform them that you do not feel comfortable treating them and they are best to seek treatment elsewhere (supply a list of nearby Podiatrists). You do not need the stress, and you will become stressed as their next appointment approaches. You do not need the stress of the wife sitting in the next consultation "inspecting your work".
    As Kevin says, other practitioners including orthopods do not put up with this sort of behaviour. The silly old wife obviously views you as a simple "toenail cutter" who is to be bossed around. Seriously, document everything and have no further contact with them. Although the problem was not with the patient directly, you must not be abused like this.

    I recently had an old bird tell me that her doctor had told her she had run out of time in her consultation, as she was asking about ten different questions of him. She was furious and told me she was going to report him to AHPRA. - I told her that was not something that could be complained about. She became enraged. You see, this was a lady who spent all of her retired life writing letters to politicians all day. A stupid lady, but still taking up time with unsubstantiated complaints.

    Unfortunately, the complaints mechanism in Australia enables such irrational people to make complaints about practitioners and "throw darts" free of charge. Guild insurance sent me a letter some months ago saying that patients are complaining about practitioners through AHPRA and the HCCC as a "test case", before proceeding to full blown costly litigation. That is, they wait to see the response to the complaint from AHPRA as a guide to the likely success of litigating.

    So document everything. As Ros said, these sorts of formal complaints generally go nowhere but it is still stressful to deal with.
  16. surfboy

    surfboy Active Member

    And as for "checking whether patients need anything else" because of a complaint years ago. Seriously??? How do you expect to make any money if you spend 45 minutes doing everything the patient wants in one consultation. It's time you toughened up girl, and politely tell them that you operate on 20-25 minute appointment times, and you have unfortunately run out of time today and that they will need to make another appointment. - Tell the aggressive old wife that her husband's corn was very deep, and that there was simply not enough time left in the consultation to attend to anything else but this pathology.
    It sounds like these patients really have you under their control. Remind them that the Medicare rebate is for a 20 minute appointment, and the DVA F012 recommends 15 minutes of time!
  17. blinda

    blinda MVP

    Tip from an old bird; listen to your patients, you'll be amazed at what you learn.
    Have a good weekend:drinks
  18. David Smith

    David Smith Well-Known Member

    Did you start your career in the NHS?
  19. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Not too keen on the ageist remarks from Surfboy but a valid point made about taking abuse....you don't! Hope your feeling more at one with the universe and the sage advice from the 'old' (experienced) pods has helped. Yes "Teflon" is what you become on the exterior, but also as one of my staff wrote on my office door TNS, takes no sh**. Patients who upset my staff were given one chance...that being to apologise.
  20. Paul Bowles

    Paul Bowles Well-Known Member

    Ageist, sexist and ignorant.....the triple threat! No wonder you won't reveal your identity on these forums - no one would want the general public seeing their supposed medical professional talking like this!

    AHPRA is there for a reason Surfboy - might be time to volunteer some of your life to serving on these Boards and understanding what due process is all about!

  21. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

    The answer maybe simpler than you think.

    When your clients arrive, they fill out a self declaration, it helps pass the time while they wait and at the end is a check list, title
    "Why are here to see the Podiatrist today", they can tick a few boxes and your covered, you may even put the charges next to them?

    As for this client, next time they ring you are fully booked and give out the phone number for another clinic.
  22. kdfootsteps

    kdfootsteps Member

    If you don't ask for consent to treat a certain area other than the area he specifically asks for, then that is technically assault!!
    You only did what he asked of you, so your safe. Good Luck. x
  23. antipodean

    antipodean Active Member

    As per boots in all using a self declaration form can help clarify expectations and make more efficient the new patient Q & A process. Whilst there is no pleasing some people many situations could be avoided or mitigated by managing expectations and low level triage by front desk staff when the appointment is being made. Patient info sheets pointing out length of appointments fee structures etc help avoid surprises. We can all think of patients who are booked in ostensibly for a "diabetic foot "check",also expecting the diffuse hyperkeratosis to be attended and a comprehensive bio mechanical for recent heel pain. If they are in a job that's hard to take time off during business hours and they had a 90 minute return trip to get to the clinic then it is possibly going to get messy. Informed of the facts or asked the right questions most people are happy to book an extended appointment or at least prioritise issues. otherwise they may decide to then book with someone else who at first point of contact with a clinic asks for an appointment and is simply given a time. good luck to that clinic it is business I don't want or need.
  24. I would like to add to everyone else. You are a very good podiatrist. You addressed the issues the patient came in for and asked him if there was anything else he needed doing. If you thought that not cutting his nails would cause a health risk, e.g wound, pain. I am sure you would have asked if you could cut his nails and expand why you would like to do this.
  25. surfboy

    surfboy Active Member

    What was the outcome with this?
  26. Simone Lee

    Simone Lee Active Member

    Wow. I didnt realise there were all these responses. Thanks guys for all your thoughtful input. It was really interesting. Most of you are right, and i have since learned this the long way via the podiatry hive. There was no further complaint and i did eventuallly get over it. I am caring by nature but have learnt to treat myself with much more respect and now do re book for each condition. I no longer try to address each issue have heartedly in one consult. My esteem had gone up and my clinic is better than it ever has been. Some of that drive has also been due to legal proceedings from another unrelated incident to do with an employee in another profession and that is going to require $100000 to pay legal costs and if she wins further potential compensation. I have also been dealing with a higher emotional state due to being a new mother and my little one having ongoing medical problems. What a year! Things are and will improve. Thanks again guys and girls

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