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Consumer Complaints: Essential To New Wave Maternity Care

Consumer Complaints: Essential To New Wave Maternity Care

What Is A Consumer Complaint?

Certainly we’ve all received a long awaited package, torn it open out of excitement, and come face to face with disappointment. This product we purchased is not the product we were sold. When faced with this situation, a vast majority of us will go back onto the website we purchased the item from to leave a review explaining why the product does not live up to its advertised quality. We do this not only to let the company know we’re not happy with our service, but also to warn other consumers that this product isn’t worth their time, energy, and money. This is a normal part of life, right? An online consumer’s right of passage, if you will. What if I told you that you can do the same exact thing with Drs, Hospital Staff, and Nurses? What if I told you that doing so doesn’t just warn others that they shouldn’t waste their time and money? instead, it actually sends a clear warning that their body, baby, and well being are greatly at risk in the hands of the professionals in question. Perhaps your honesty could not only bring you closure, but also save lives.

So How Do I File A Consumer Complaint?

  1. 1. Write down your story as soon as possible— a stream of consciousness— if you can record it on video or voice recording is even better as it capture the true thoughts without the hindrance of having to write it down
    • ● Think about the scope of the complaint—was this an ongoing issue or a one time offense?
    • ● Was it an overall safety concern or one incident/person?
    • ● Is this a system issue or specific to your situation?
    • ● Provide them with feedback as to how they can improve to avoid this in the future. 
  1. 2. Research your hospitals process for reporting complaints. There is usually a “patient advocacy’ or ‘patient relations’ department that handles all complaints. Making sure your complaint gets into the right hands is crucial. If it lands in the wrong inbox, there will be no forward progress because they won’t be able to do anything about it. DO NOT FILE YET! 
  2. 3. Obtain your medical records and operative reports
  3. 4. Report to your states medical board, HERE.
  4. 5. File a report with the Joint Commission (manage patient safety concerns) HERE.
    • ● If you need to edit your complaint, do so HERE.
    • ● Their priority is patient safety so coercive care, abusive providers, and failure to gain consent is very important to them and will be investigated.
  1. 6. Visit My Patient Rights and file a complaint
  2. 7. If you are a POC and/or your provider is a person of color, visit and file a complaint.
  3. 8. If this was a OBGYN or midwife (reproductive health providers), report to The Birth Monopoly Map.
  4. 9. File with your state—where you file will vary state by state, but you can check with your states Department of Public Health.
  5. 10. Now file with your hospital directly.

Why Should I File A Complaint?

Whether you were deeply traumatized, dehumanized, spoken to unkindly, or touched without consent, these reports hold providers accountable for their transgressions. It is lack of accountability that has bought our way into a medical industrial complex run on trauma and dehumanization. So these reports, whether dismissed or investigated, hold intrinsic value that our attempts at reform desperately need. That’s the selfless side of it. Then there’s the other hand where filing these reports can give us clarity, closure, and help us make sense of our experience. Writing down your story is an intense process, but putting that pen down after it’s done is cathartic. It’s not just this experience that's memory is isolated to your mind, but a clear and concise retelling of what shouldn’t have happened to you, and what needs to change as a result. That feels GOOD. Your report could save lives. Your report could open the provider’s eyes enough to make them change something about their routine care. Your report could even affect change and reform within your hospital. No effort to affect change is too small.

The Nursing Code Of Ethics

While misconduct is overlooked on a near daily basis, nurses are ethically obligated to report colleagues and providers who are practicing bad medicine. You may have heard the term “Mandatory reporter” and thought of domestic abuse, child abuse, and sexual abuse, but in fact, nurses are also legally and ethically bound to report malpractice, obstetric abuse, etc.. If you know the names of the nurses that witnessed the actions you are reporting to the board, it may be wise to include their names in your complaint. Doing so raises the likelihood that they will be questioned if an investigation is opened on your behalf. While nurses may overlook these abuses on their labor and delivery ward, they are more likely to be transparent and forthcoming when sitting before their state medical board, especially under oath.

The Big Picture

Reporting a provider’s bad medicine, especially when it’s been practiced on your body, can be scary and emotional. As a person who has filed these reports twice, I understand how monstrous and consuming the mental aspect of this can be. I understand that sitting down at your kitchen table and typing out your trauma line by line can feel like you’ll come entirely undone. You won’t. At least, it won’t be entirely, and it won’t be forever. If you feel that the emotions that will arise could overpower you, there is no shame in asking a friend or partner to help lead you through the process or simply sit next to you as you do it. While many people approach reporting with the mentality that their words could protect others, I think there is just as much good to be said about reporting with the intention of raising your voice loudly enough to say “What this Dr/nurse did to my body and my baby was not, nor ever will be, acceptable. I am here to make that claim over and over until somebody truly hears me”. Just as filing these complaints can be scary, they can be empowering too! It takes bravery to hold a human with a medical license accountable for their actions. After the fear and emotions of writing out that report, comes the closure and courage you’ve gained by doing so. I wholeheartedly believe in that bravery of yours, and I wholeheartedly hope you don’t have to use it again for quite some time.

This blog post was written by a former Tranquility by HeHe doula.


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