Speaking Up for Others

Authority Fraser Health

Visiting her father in the hospital, Nicole was concerned with what she saw. She noticed apparent abusive and rough handling of patients and over-reliance on medication to manage patient behaviour. Restraints were all too common – there were abrasions on her father’s wrists and ankles. 

Outlining her concerns, Nicole went to the health authority’s Patient Care Quality Office. The health authority responded, but only with respect to her father, noting it could not address concerns about other patients – those it referred back to the hospital ward. 

On a return visit, Nicole watched one of the workers she had reported for rough treatment. Skeptical that Fraser Health intervened on behalf of the other patients, Nicole contacted us, adding that if it was not for a friend, she would have never known what to do with her concerns. She wondered why the hospital did not display signage to inform patients and visitors about the Patient Care Quality Office.

Through investigation we learned the health authority had conducted a thorough investigation into Nicole’s complaint about all the patients in her father’s room, including a lengthy interview with Nicole to hear her perspective. Concerned, the health authority met with fifteen employees, leading to a number of changes to their practice. Professional education sessions with weekly follow up became mandatory. Some employees were subject to a review of professional practice standards and staff was re-educated about the appropriate use of restraints.

We determined the investigation conducted by Fraser Health was thorough, and appropriate steps were taken to solve the patient care concerns. However, questions remained about the process to be followed when someone makes a complaint about a patient who is not their relative or loved one. Fraser Health agreed to develop a protocol for complaints made about staff misconduct or wrongdoing, to ensure they were addressed by the appropriate program.

We also had concerns with the lack of information available in the hospital about how to make a complaint. Fraser Health agreed with our recommendation to install signage in the hospital about the Patient Care Quality Office and link the health authority’s existing whistleblower policy to their webpage. 

As a result of our investigation Fraser Health will be better able to respond to complaints about patient care from non-relatives or loved ones and people in the hospital will be better informed about how to make a complaint about patient care.

Names in our case summaries have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. This case study can also be found in the 2016-2017 Annual Report.

Category Seniors
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2016
Location The Lower Mainland