I usually never write a letter of complaint after I have a(nother) bad experience with a health provider. I just want to move on. In some cases I am afraid commenting will affect my treatment. In others I just feel disillusioned that it will make any difference.
I am coming up on my four year anniversary since diagnosis and I feel a sense of responsibility, that after all my experiences I should raise awareness about the basics of safe, competent, patient centered care. So I am posting a letter I wrote to an acupuncture clinic I tried last week, which was an epic failure, in the hope that a health provider out there reads it and learns a thing or two!
I would like to cancel my appointment next week. Treating chronic pain patients requires specific skills and I would like to pass on a few suggestions for improving your clients’ experience:
– after the acupuncture needles are put in place, inform the client how they can call for assistance if they need to. I was in significant pain because of the lying position I was in and could not get help during the last 10 min of waiting.
– inform the patient about each procedure beforehand, what it will be like and what the possible consequences might be. Sarah (name changed) asked if I would like to try cupping and after I agreed she began the treatment before explaining what it entailed. Furthermore, instead of testing one or two times she did it all over my back. Since then, I have had chronic headache, a pain flare and deep bruising. The definition of my condition is increased pain sensitivity so an experienced practitioner should have trialed the treatment on the first visit. I have had to see my physiotherapist to undo the muscle spasms caused by this treatment.
– I was given a herbal remedy but the ingredients were not explained, nor were the benefits or possible side effects described. This is the equivalent of my doctor saying ‘here is a prescription’ without telling me what it is, why, or what it should do! I have a lot of sensitivities to drugs and supplements, and often need a lower dose than normal but was not given an opportunity to discuss this in private.
All of these examples are ultimately a failure of patient-centred care – making the client feel like a person rather than a diagnosis – and therefore, I will not be returning to your clinic.