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The Office of the Health Ombudsman is the official health complaints agency for Queensland. It is an independent statutory body and provides a free health complaints reviews process for all Queenslanders.

You can make a complaint via:

However, before you start the complaints process, you must make sure you have the required information on hand. This page explains the information you will need and the things you need to do to ensure your complaint is reviewed with due consideration.

Who can you make a complaint against?

You can make a complaint against the following if they are Queensland based;

  • Doctor
  • Surgeon or specialist
  • Nurse
  • Dentist
  • Hospital
  • Health care provider
  • Other health care worker

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What power does the Office of the Health Ombudsman in Queensland have?

The Health Ombudsman has a range of powers including:

  • Mediate a resolution with the health care provider
  • Refer your complaint to another organisation such as Police or the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).   
  • Take immediate action against the health service provider

It does not have the power to award financial compensation - The Office of the Health Ombudsman in Queensland does not have the right to award compensation for any complaint about medical negligence to cover items such as past and future loss of earnings, cost of ongoing care requirements or pain and suffering.

If you are looking to seek medical negligence compensation then a complaint to the ombudsman is still an important step. However, you will also need to seek advice from medical negligence lawyers.

You can get free and no-obligation advice from our expert medical negligence lawyers by calling 1800 094 603 or requesting a call back via the chat widget to the bottom right of your screen.

Step 1: Start by raising the issue directly with your healthcare provider

The Health Ombudsman makes it clear in its complaints process that you should first raise your concerns directly with your health care provider to see if complaints can be resolved directly.

As the Health Ombudsman asks you to confirm if you have raised the issue with your health care provider directly this should be considered an important step and is likely to ensure your complaint is taken seriously.

Complaints to your health care provider can be made via any method including:

  • In-person
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Social media messaging

However, it’s recommended that you include a written channel that can be referred back to. For example, if you raise the concern initially in a meeting or over the phone then it may be good to email the person concerned a summary of what you believed was said and what expectations there are to resolve the issue.

Raising concerns directly may solve the issue, especially for issues that can be solved with an apology, refund, further free/discounted corrective treatment, or a change in the treating provider.

For more significant issues:

  • Seek to make a formal complaint to the health care provider
  • Ask to speak with a supervisor or patient liaison officer and ask about the complaints process. Health districts (such as Metro-North, Metro-South) have their own complaints process and forms you can request.
  • Seek legal advice to help guide you through the process

Step 2: Information to have to hand or to consider before lodging a health ombudsman complaint

Before you go to submit your complaint, try to gather or think through the following information; 

What happened

Provide a summary of what happened and what went wrong in your view.

Complaints could relate to factors such as:

  • Price - The price charged may have been higher than what you expected or were quoted.
  • Customer service - you were unhappy with the customer service provided by the doctor or health care provider. This might be an individual you felt was rude or issues with the provider as a whole such as pushing back your appointment dates.
  • Poor outcome - You are not happy with the outcome of the treatment received.
  • Possible negligence - If the impact has caused on-going

Who was involved

Try to provide as precise information as possible such as the name and position of each person involved.

If you don’t have names for everyone or anyone then just provide the best you can such as:

  • EXAMPLE: Dr. Cobie Bishop - Anaesthetist (example name only) and two nurses were in the room at the time of the incident.

Where it happened

Try to be as specific as possible. For small locations such as GP clinics or dental clinics then the name of the centre may be sufficient.

If the incident happened at a large location such as a hospital then provide the most specific information you have such as:

  • Hospital name
  • Ward
  • Room or bed number
  • If you don’t know the exact room then you can provide details you do remember such as ‘Occurred in the operating theatre’ or ‘Occurred in the post-recovery room in Ward B’.

When it happened

Provide the date (day, month, and year) that it happened OR the time period with as much accuracy as possible.

If you had an appointment time then provide that as part of the information.

Your main concerns

You should have stated what went wrong but you also need to list your ongoing concerns as a result of the issue you encountered.

These could include concerns about the quality of care that may impact future patients such as:

  • Sleep deprivation due to noise and disturbances on the ward
  • Perceived rudeness or disrespect of staff providing treatment
  • Lack of professionalism, cleanliness, or organisation
  • Waiting too long and/or scheduling issues
  • Not feeling your views or [ST3] concerns were taking into account

Or there could be ongoing direct impacts due to reasons such as:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Incorrect medication or dosing
  • Surgery mistakes that you believe are due to negligence rather than the inherent risk of the procedure
  • Anaesthesia mistakes such as insufficient dosing which may have caused the trauma of waking up during surgery or overdosing which may cause long-term issues including brain damage.
  • Financial concerns such as the cost to rectify the issue (for example, cost of going to another cosmetic surgeon or dentist to correct a mistake) or ongoing costs to deal with pain, suffering, recovery, or care needed due to issues you believe the medical practitioner or organisation contributed to.

Supporting documents

Bring together any other supporting documents you have to back up your complaint.

These may include;

  • Correspondence with the medical provider such as emails or letters
  • Photo evidence such as before/after photos or recent images showing the effects of what happened (faulty surgery, dental error, and so on).
  • Invoices and bank statements showing costs incurred
  • Medical reports from the provider you are complaining about or another such as your GP to support the complaint

Details of your direct complaint with your healthcare provider

It’s important that you have raised the issue with the health care provider directly before making the ombudsman complaint.

Provide details of when, how, and to whom you raised the issue directly to the health care provider and what their response was.

Provide a copy of any written response in your submission.

What you want to happen

Please try to state clearly what action you want the Health Ombudsman to take and/or the outcome you are hoping for.

Types of things you want to happen could include:

  • Full or partial refund to be provided
  • Corrective treatment or surgery to be provided
  • Formal apology to be provided
  • The health practitioner or staff to be disciplined
  • Incident to be properly investigated
  • Complaint to be referred to medical registration board or authorities if other patients could be at risk

If the negligent act of a health care provider in Queensland has created long-term impacts such as economic loss then you may also be entitled to medical negligence compensation. This is not something the health ombudsman can help directly with but a complaint should still be made to allow them to investigate and provide an outcome to the complaint.

Step 3: Make the health ombudsman complaint

Now you’ve gathered all the information you can lodge the complaint. The easiest method to ensure you can provide all the required evidence is to make the complaint online via the Health Ombudsman website but you can also download a printable form or start the complaint process over the phone.

You can make a complaint via:

You should get a reference number for your complaint and be advised on the next steps. Your claim will be reviewed and you may be asked for more information if required before a response is provided.

To get advice on making a Queensland medical negligence claim then call us now on 1800 094 603 or request a call back online via the chat widget.

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