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What is the Role of Patient Relations?

Question

What is the legitimate role of a patient relations department? In my job, patient relations reports to me. I also have human resources, the volunteers, pastoral care, and operations improvement (Six Sigma approach). You have commented that the first thing an administrator often does is hire a patient representative to keep those complaining people away from him or her. If that is the purpose, I would do away with our patient reps and make nursing and administration deal with complaints directly. I believe that a patient relations representative does have a legitimate role but would appreciate your thoughts on what that role might be.

Answer

I agree with you. Unit leaders need to deal with complaints, especially if the patient and family desire that administration deal with complaints. I see the role of patient relations as centered on understanding the measurement tool and educating leaders on what to focus on to improve service. These people should be involved in trending complaints for use in process improvement. They should harvest the tools and techniques that work and use them in developing leaders’ skill sets. They should research what to do next.