How to Make Yourself COMPLAINT-PROOF!

Do you ever wonder who gets complained about? Look around at your colleagues and play a little game of detective with yourself.

One way to start is to find someone who is rude—in writing or in person. A very high percentage of our complaints stem from inappropriate lapses in what you might call “customer service” in any other business.

If rudeness doesn’t seem bad enough, find a physio who does not provide a thorough explanation before they touch the patient. Many of our complaints involve concerns about some element of consent. In lots of cases, the patient was hurt or surprised by the touch or the mobilization. In any other context (say at the movie theatre or in line at the bank), that kind of invasion of privacy would be considered assault.

Finally, and you won’t have to look far to find one of these, find a PT who has not ensured that both his or her patient charts and billing records are complete and accurate. A good proportion of our complaints come from people who don’t believe that physiotherapy was appropriately provided.

In many, many (far too many) of these cases, when we try to line up the billing invoices with the patient charts, we see records that don’t include treatment goals, objective progress measures or indication that there was regular reassessment.

Honestly folks, from the perspective of a third party (like a Committee or insurer reviewing the records) if you didn’t write it down, the conclusion will be that you did not do it.

These are our top 3 categories of complaint, for sure.

There are others, of course: among them, we hear from patients who doubt that the physio properly identified what was wrong with them; we hear from peers about off-side advertising practices; we hear from patients whose physios sold them products they feel were unnecessary or too expensive; we hear plenty of complaints about outright fraud and on occasion, horribly, we hear from patients who felt sexually abused by their physiotherapist

And we investigate them ALL.

Investigations are time-consuming and stressful for the physiotherapist and for the complainant.

So if you want to make your practice complaint-proof, here are my top four tips:

  1. Treat all your patients like cherished customers whose permission you need for every element of the transaction.
  2. Keep your financial and patient records clear and thorough.
  3. Sincerely pursue opportunities for continuing education (including talking over new developments and tough cases with trusted colleagues).
  4. Never, never, never breach patient-provider boundaries.


3 thoughts on “How to Make Yourself COMPLAINT-PROOF!

  1. You say if you don’t write it down it never happened. Apparently this is not true because you will take the word of an dividual that they were a ” patient” of a Physio when there were no records or notes to prove otherwise.
    You will also allow members of the public to use the Health Care Professional Act to seek vengeance on Physios without any more evidence other than the word of the complainant. If a person is willing to state on record that they were wrongfully done by by a Physio you take it as the truth. There is no way for a member to defend themselves in a one sided system like the one the CPO administers. Other Allied Healthcare Colleges clearly state that they will not entertain any complaints that are lodged against a member as a means to seek vengeance.
    In this day and age everything is accessible on the internet. People are finding ways to ruin physiotherapists’ lives and take away their livelihood and the CPO 100% supports the individual who is manipulating the Act in a means of revenge and basically mocking anyone who actually has been victimized by a member.
    It is time for the CPO to reexamine the way they choose to protect the public and actually put forth the effort in investigating the member and the complaintant both thoroughly.
    The CPO will be respected far more by the public and the membership if the CPO would hold everyone accountable for accusations and complaints against the professional body. It is time to stop openly taking a member of the public’s word as proof enough for concluding that a health care professional is guilty of anything.


  2. I agree with you, in this day and age everything is accessible on the internet. The college just tweeted, keep your registration number safe. This statement just made a mockery of the college itself who displays all the information required to bill any insurance company openly on their website; name, location of practice and of course the coveted registration number.


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