Objective: To provide insight into the general public's knowledge of disciplinary procedures, their grounds for lodging a complaint or otherwise and their confidence in the disciplinary system.
Method: In 2008, questionnaires were sent to all 1368 members of the Healthcare Consumer Panel of the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), to check their knowledge about the disciplinary procedures. The response was 69%.
Results: The majority of the respondents were not well-informed about the aims and procedures of the disciplinary system. They did not know which complaints can be brought before a disciplinary board and were of the opinion that you had to be very confident about your case to lodge a complaint. Many respondents expressed concerns about the accessibility of the disciplinary system. More than one-third of the respondents had no confidence in the independent status of the disciplinary proceedings.
Conclusion: Efforts should be made to optimise the possibilities for members of the general public to lodge complaints. Examples are: organising a single office where complaints can be submitted, providing public information materials about the aims and procedures of the disciplinary system, and supplying concrete support to individuals who wish to lodge a complaint. For complaints that arise as a result of shortcomings in the quality of care provided, but which are not serious enough to justify the imposition of sanctions, ways should be found to provide plaintiffs with a just outcome. For example, the professionals involved should make it clear how the incident will be prevented from happening again.