Learning from 5 years of obstetric complaints at a multicentre tertiary healthcare group

Ben Nowotny, Erwin Loh, Euan Wallace

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background Obstetric healthcare complaints represent experienced deficiencies in care. However, complaints data are rarely reviewed once closed. Additionally, there is very little published literature on obstetric complaints. Therefore, health services may be missing an important quality and safety improvement opportunity. Objectives To analyse 5 years of obstetric complaints for both theme and content so as to determine the causal elements of complaints and identify opportunities for care improvement. Methods Obstetric complaints recorded in the RiskMan feedback database of a large multicentre tertiary healthcare group between 1 April 2011 and 30 April 2016 were analysed. Characteristics of the complainant population were examined and reported as a number and percentage of all complaints. Complaint severity and content was assessed and complaints were classified into one of the following four themes: Communication, Service Provision, Administrative & Legal, or Medical Care & Adverse Outcomes. Results Of the 214 complaints identified, 199 satisfied the inclusion criteria for analysis. The majority (46%) of complainants were Australian born with the second largest number of complaints arising from sub‐continental mothers (17.1%). Communication was identified as a factor in 58.8% of complaints. However, medical care and adverse outcomes were more associated with severe and critical complaints. The majority (91%) of severe and critical complaints addressed medical care and adverse outcomes. Conclusions Analysing historical complaints data is one method by which healthcare organisations can identify opportunities for quality improvement. If patients at risk of complaints could be proactively identified, this may afford the opportunity to improve quality of care.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Congress of the Perinatal-Society-of-Australia-and-New-Zealand 2017: Policy and Controversy from Research to Reality - Canberra Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 2 Apr 20175 Apr 2017
Conference number: 21st


ConferenceAnnual Congress of the Perinatal-Society-of-Australia-and-New-Zealand 2017
Abbreviated titlePSANZ

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