I get complaints

A couple of months ago I had a patient complaint. More specifically, I had a complaint from the mother of a 14 y/o who was my patient, who had fallen off his board and sustained an eyebrow lac and a brief loss of consciousness, but was completely awake and alert.

I remember this interaction well: the ED was a zoo, it was when we were still shorthanded on docs, so things were moving more slowly than normal. Mom was beside herself with anxious self-importance, coming to the nurses’ desk about every 3 minutes to ask ‘when something will be done for my son’. This is normal once, and maybe twice, but she did this about 6 times, each time assurred that things were happening (they were), etc. It should be noted that this teen, dressed in the adolescent rebellion uniform, was entirely calm and cooperative, and several times asked mom to please just sit down and let us work.

I sutured his lac, and his head CT was normal, and after being in the ED for a whopping 2.5 hours, they went home.

Two weeks later a complaint letter was forwarded to me for my comments. Mom had written that the wait her son had endured was plainly excessive, and that we “…should compensate him for his time, maybe by buying him a new skateboard”. Now, I work in a very ‘customer friendly’ place, but his was the most amazing complaint/request any of us had ever seen, and the review comments were uniformly ‘huh?’.

We sent him a get-well card.