Comparison of complaints to the intensive care units and those to the general wards: an analysis using the Healthcare Complaint Analysis Tool in an academic medical center in Taiwan

Jih-Shuin Jerng, Szu-Fen Huang, Hsin-Yu Yu, Yi-Chun Chan, Huang-Ju Liang, Huey-Wen Liang, Jui-Sheng Sun
Critical Care: the Official Journal of the Critical Care Forum 2018 December 6, 22 (1): 335

BACKGROUND: The management of complaints in the setting of intensive care may provide opportunities to understand patient and family experiences and needs. However, there are limited reports on the structured application of complaint analysis tools and comparisons between healthcare complaints in the critical care setting and other settings.

METHODS: From the complaint management database of a university-affiliated medical center in Taiwan, we retrospectively identified the records of healthcare complaints to the intensive care units (ICUs) from 2008 to 2016. Complaints to the general wards in the same period were randomly selected from the database with twice the number of that of the ICU complaints. We coded, typed, and compared the complaints from the two settings according to the Healthcare Complaint Analysis Tool.

RESULTS: We identified 343 complaints to the ICUs and randomly selected 686 complaints to the general wards during the 9-year study period. Most (94.7%) of the complaints to the ICUs came from the family members, whereas more complaints to the general wards came from the patients (44.2%). A total of 1529 problems (441 from ICU and 818 from general wards) were identified. Compared with the general ward complaints, in the ICU there were more complaints with multiple problems (25.1% vs. 16.9%, p = 0.002), complaints were referred more frequently to the nurses (28.1% vs. 17.5%, p < 0.001), and they focused more commonly on the care on the ICU/ward (60.5% vs. 54.2%, p = 0.029). The proportions of the three domains (clinical, management, and relationship) of complaints were similar between the ICU and general ward complaints (p = 0.121). However, in the management domain, the problems from ICU complaints focused more on the environment than on the institutional processes (90.9% vs. 74.5%, p < 0.001), whereas in the relationship domain, the problems focused more on communication (17.9% vs. 8.0%) and less on listening (34.6% vs. 46.5%) (p = 0.002) than the general ward complaints.

CONCLUSIONS: A structured typing and systematic analysis of the healthcare complaints to the ICUs may provide valuable insights into the improvement of care quality, especially to the perceptions of the ICU environment and communications of the patients and their families.

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