Where to complain about problems with psych clinic?
I have been a depression patient at an outpatient psychiatric clinic (USA) for some time. It is associated with a teaching hospital, and all of my therapists there have been residents who treat patients as part of their training. (When I look at the signup sheet I see that attendings also treat patients, but I donít know how thatís determined. My best guess is that it depends on how much your insurance will pay.)
I have observed shocking treatment, incompetence, and indifference that seems to be firmly rooted in their system. In particular, I know of two egregious occasions that might well have resulted in patient suicide, and I would not be surprised if this place will contribute to the deaths of patients in the future. For all I know it already has.
I have tried to bring my concerns to the people running the place, but was not taken seriously. In fact, I was told by the director in a moment of honesty that their mission is training residents, not helping patients. Having low self-esteem, a large part of me feels I deserve to be treated that way. But when I think of other patients being treated with such lack of concern, I get angry as hell, and I simply *must* do something to try to improve things for them. I have nearly completed a detailed web page about what Iíve observed. But publishing (and promoting) it is a really big step, and I would much rather try to work in a less public way if at all possible.
In light of that, I have three questions that Iím hoping that someone with greater knowledge of such matters can help me with:
1. What authority (or authorities) at a level higher than hospital officials overseas such clinics? Iíve pretty much exhausted trying to work through hospital officials, and have come away convinced that their only real concern is in keeping their butts well-covered legally.
2. I want to ask for copies of my full patient records. Iím not sure how much value they will have, as Iíve been told by outsiders that most of the interesting stuff is written in ďprivate work notes.Ē Plus, Iíve already asked for and seen a limited number of my recent records, and theyíre mostly repeated cut-and-paste from previous records, together with untruths that I canít refute with evidence. But they should be of value in establishing exact dates, at the very least. However I can see a potential problem in asking for the full records: With my previous complaints, Iím no doubt seen by them as a troublemaker. And some of the records Iím extremely interested in obtaining may or may not still exist, since they are years old, possibly beyond the time the clinic is required to keep them. (*Are* they, in fact, required to keep records for a certain amount of time?) My concern is that they might exist, but only because no one got around to destroying them, and that if I ask for them they will deny their existence and *then* destroy them. Is there any way I can (inexpensively) try to protect myself from this happening?
3. Anyone have any good ideas for fixing the situationóor promoting the web page, should it come to that?
Re: Where to complain about problems with psych clinic?
Try complaining to the county medical society. That is what a doc told me to do about another doc who was very negligent. They have a board that oversees the docs licensed in that area. And there are state boards as well.
As for records, psych records are very hard to get...even my therapist couldn't get some of mine. It will probably take a lawyer. If your clinic is associated with a university maybe it has a law school and they often have programs for low cost or free legal advice. Maybe a student would take it on. Otherwise, look for "Legal Aid" and see if they can help but I think they are mostly criminal but could refer you to a civil aid person.
Be very careful of a web page...you could find yourself being sued for slander/liable. What you have seen is your opinion. And unfortunately, as a patient, your opinion is of little value to other psychs. One of the problems with psych services...many psych residents and staff have to see themselves as far superior in order to cope with hearing everyone's problems from day to day....a little trick they play on themselves in order to cope but very destructive to the patients as we know what they think of us(this is from my therapist, not me).
My advice...go elsewhere and get a fresh start. You won't change the hospital. I just read a new book about about how entrenched the medical establishment is and a study showed it took, on average, 17 YEARS, to get doctors to change the way they did one simple thing...like giving an aspirin to someone having a heart attack. Changing the psych establishment is even harder. No one in psych believed that PTSD existed and it took almost 40 years to get it accepted and still some don't believe it exists.
It's hard to walk away when you see people hurting and in danger but it happens everyday and we have to accept and look after ourselves. We can only be effective after we are well...and even then it's questionable.
Re: Where to complain about problems with psych clinic?
knowmore: You need to find your State Board of Registration for Doctors. You should be able to find an address on your states website. There might be instruction on there about what you can do. There might even be a website for the SBR and list each state. I'm not sure. If you can't get anywhere with that then try your state house and state government. Alot of these facilities are state run. If it's a teaching hospital then the state is involved somewhere. They have to be accountable to someone.
You might even be able to get the information from your insurance company.
As far as your records, you should be able to get copies of them. I try to keep as many items as I can of my records and test, etc. so I don't have to try to get them when I need them. They might charge you a service fee to copy them. If you make a big enough fuss about it then they might accomodate you.
Another thing you could do to bring attention to this place is call the newspaper and get them involved. These places don't want any bad publicity.