I absolutely LOVE answering the complaint line here at HQ. Not HMHQ, my real HQ gig. The complaint line at HMHQ never rings.
Many may not want to hear the public rattle on about how we stole tens of thousands of dollars from their wheelchair or lifted a priceless piece of art the last time we were called code 3 for a spoon stuck in the disposal, but I LOVE it.
My pencil jots notes as I listen to the complaint in it’s entirety never once asking for clarification. I get the entire story out and make sure they say everything they want to say. 90% of their complaint is usually because they want to be heard, not because they have a legitimate complaint. They want to hear that it’s not cool that they don’t have as much stuff as I do or that spoons fall into my disposal all the time. The venting is the powerful process here, I should know, right?
However, every now and then I get a call from someone unclear on the concept.
Not sure that heading still fits, but we’re almost 4 years into this thing, why change now? A woman has called me requesting the ambulance crew who transported her 2 days ago be fired.
Her story goes a little something like this:
The ambulance crew was late, rude and refused to help her. They didn’t carry her into the ER and refused to give her to a nurse. The ambulance crew then pointed at her and make remarks that I won’t repeat here. Her language was colorful and hurried while I made notes and pulled up the chart from that day.
When she was finally finished I assured her I would look into her claims and explained the process. While I was doing so I returned no records of a her being transported that day.
“Could this have been yesterday?” I ask seeing her name pop up on another day, then another. In fact the software we use turns grey days blue if a patient is contacted on that day.
There are more blue days than grey.
I also notice that today is blue so I pull up the chart.
While I’m doing so she continues on that after the rude evil paramedics left she collapsed and had to spend 2 days in ICU. She then described the pile of bills she is already receiving.
I noted her concerns for the file and asked the only question I needed to ask:
“Were you transported to St Closest today at 10 AM?”
“What? How do you know that? That’s a violation of my privacy! How dare you access my medical record without my permission!” a brief pause… “Well?”
“Ma’am, if you’ll permit me..” and I restated her clinical concerns and her destination concern, and the claim that she was not delivered to a nurse, all of which is directly connected to her medical record. And although I had no way of confirming her identity, no PHI was exchanged and clearly she knows most of the fleet and they know her. As I scan a few of the charts looking for patterns of behavior I find what I’m looking for.
Most of the crews are using her statements in quotes and they match almost to the word:
“Patient states she will file a complaint if not transported to Saint Farthest, Saint Farthest is on divert, patient ambulated away angrily with steady gait.”
When I asked if she had been transported to her facility of choice and if the Paramedics had actually been rude to her, she began the back track. She didn’t really want them fired, maybe just talked to, or even just mention that she was not pleased with the level of service she received. Then we talked for a good 20 minutes about her medical conditions and her use of 911. I offered a few contact numbers for local resources and even threw in a few breathing exercises for relaxing after a long day as an urban outdoorswoman. She thanked me and in the end apologized for taking my time.
“That’s why I’m here, Ma’am. If my Paramedics ever do anything you don’t like you call me right back, OK?”
That was in January.
Today I noticed her name on a chart where she was transported for a chronic condition, but the colorful language was gone. I had to go back and check the name to be sure.
Her blue squares have decreased significantly since and I’d like to think I had something to do with that. It wasn’t a rapid response car, or an advanced skill set, it was taking the time to listen and offering support.