As set out in the Excellent Care for All Act, 2010 (ECFAA), Patient Ombudsman’s role is to receive and help resolve complaints related to health care experiences in health organizations that fall under our jurisdiction.
Patient Ombudsman is not a patient advocacy organization: we work with all sides to find a fair resolution. We see complaints as an opportunity to resolve individual concerns and identify and address broader concerns across the health care sector. Our service charter provides more detail about how we work to impartially respond to complaints.
What happens when we receive a complaint?
When we receive a complaint, the first step is to determine if we’re the right organization to help.
Patient Ombudsman is an office of last resort, which means complainants need to first try and address their concerns directly with you, the health sector organization (HSO). For hospitals, we generally direct complainants to the patient relations department.
We are not able to review complaints about clinical decisions of regulated health professionals, which we refer to appropriate regulatory bodies, such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons or College of Nurses, nor do we review complaints about health organizations outside of our jurisdiction (e.g., walk-in clinics, retirement homes).
What happens when there is a complaint against you?
We work collaboratively with a complainant and you, the HSO, to understand the complaint and its impact from all perspectives.
Once we receive a written complaint and consent from either the patient or their substitute decision-maker, we will contact you to outline what to expect from our process and to gather information about the situation. This may include requesting medical records, policies, or other files relevant to the complaint. If our request for information is straightforward, we expect a response within 10 business days. Patient Ombudsman expects HSOs to provide the information requested as part of the complaint resolution process.
Patient Ombudsman early resolution staff will review the information, speak with both you and the complainant to discuss the situation, and apply fairness principles to determine whether the HSO acted fairly in the circumstances.
What does resolution look like?
Every complaint is different and so are the possible resolutions. For example, at the end of the early resolution process, Patient Ombudsman may determine that the HSO acted fairly and no further action is needed. Other times, we may determine that an apology is appropriate, or that the complaint can be resolved by a change to a policy or procedure, or that the HSO should take steps to prevent similar complaints from arising. Once a complaint has been addressed to our satisfaction, we let all the parties know and close our case file.
Learn more about what to expect if Patient Ombudsman launches an investigation.