Patients as Observers and Reporters in Support of Systems and Patient Safety

  • James W. Pichert
  • Gerald B. Hickson


When patients and families observe and report their healthcare experiences, they can play important roles in promoting safety and improving quality. This chapter begins with the case of a busy, well regarded medical professional associated with a patient complaint. The complaint is a means by which patients and families can be “safety promoters”. While barriers to this role exist, they may be reduced or eliminated when organizations commit to assessing their readiness to invite and address patient concerns, and build a robust infrastructure to support the effort. This chapter discusses our experience using unsolicited (voluntary) patient complaints to address unsafe systems and behaviors. We use the physician and the physician’s practice group to illustrate implementation and outcomes of interventions designed to reduce unnecessary variation in healthcare professionals’ behavior and performance that undermine a healthcare organization’s culture of safety. The chapter concludes with guidance to hospital and healthcare systems on how best to develop, implement and sustain a patient and family experience program.


Patient safety Patient engagement Patient empowerment Patient activation Patient centered care Risk management Professionalism Professional conduct Patient satisfaction Patient complaints Quality improvement 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Education and Administration, Center for Patient and Professional AdvocacyVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Quality, Safety & Risk Prevention, Center for Patient and Professional AdvocacyVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA

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