Intended for healthcare professionals

Comment: Learning from patients

Complaints from patients have been dominating my life for the past few weeks. Following the Keogh Review we have, as a trust, been reviewing and changing our complaints processes. As part of that exercise, I have ‘signed off’ many of the complaints about medical care. I have also spoken to, and met, many of the complainants. What a thoroughly humbling and educational time it has been! Reading Nicholas Collier, Faisal Ali and John Lear’s article on HIV, I recalled the last complaint made about me personally. I had failed to test a man with severe idiopathic pruritus for HIV. While I could be ‘defensive’ and point out that he had been very selective in the history he had given, it is also true that I should have at least thought of testing him. My index of suspicion had been too low. Patients who itch without an obvious cause are always something of a challenge to me – so that patient’s complaint and the book reviewed on page eight of this issue have both helped me.
Dermatology in practice 2014; 20(1): 3–3
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