A system for using patient complaints as a trigger to improve quality

Qual Manag Health Care. 2011 Oct-Dec;20(4):343-55. doi: 10.1097/QMH.0b013e318222e73b.


This study aims to explore how hospital organizations can use complaints to drive quality improvement. A teaching hospital in Taiwan was purposefully selected as a case study. Data were collected from a variety of sources, including interview with key managers and social workers, questionnaire survey of managers (n = 53), interview with government organizations (n = 4) and nongovernment organizations (n = 3), document collection and review, and the Critical Incident Technique using a questionnaire and nonparticipant observation (n = 59). This study revealed that the case hospital attempted to resolve complaints on a case-by-case basis. But it did not act on these complaints as a collective group to identify systemic problems and deficiencies. This approach provides single-loop learning, which may be sufficient to handle the problem on hand but is not enough to prevent such problems occurring again in the future. This study suggests some implications in regard to a best practice system for using complaints to improve quality.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Documentation / methods
  • Environment
  • Hospitals, Teaching / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Information Systems / organization & administration
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Case Studies*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Taiwan