What to do if you want to complain about a doctor?

Have you experienced inappropriate or arrogant behaviour from a doctor? Did the doctor make light of your serious medical condition or suggest an incorrect procedure? How are these situations legally different from each other and how can they be handled?

zdravotnictví, nespokojenost, stížnost
5 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

To unpleasant remarks with a cool head

You’re standing in your underwear, contemplating your health, and a doctor is standing across from you – a person whom you perceive as an authority figure and allow to make some degree of decisions about your body and health. In such a situation, you are naturally vulnerable and more sensitive than ever. If you are offended by a comment or remark made by a doctor, it may be due to this specific situation. So if you are wondering what the doctor said to you, try not to act rashly and give it some time. Feel free to discuss it with someone you trust and describe the situation to them.

If you are convinced that your indignation is justified the next day, take your complaint first to the doctor’s supervisor. This may be the head of the department or the director of the health facility. You can complain verbally or by telephone, but a written complaint always carries more weight. You can also expect a written response.

What to include in a complaint against a doctor

  • name, surname and contact details,
  • the name of the health care facility and the name of the doctor you are complaining about, including his or her address,
  • why you disagree with the doctor’s actions or behaviour,
  • a description of the incident (medical history, procedure, comparison of medical condition before and after the incident, doctor’s behaviour…),
  • date,
  • signature.

If you are not satisfied with the handling of your complaint, you can also contact the administrative authority that authorised the health care facility to provide health services. This is usually the regional authority in whose district the health facility is located.

Where can I turn for more serious complaints?

There are situations that do not require much thought. If a doctor has engaged in vulgarity, sexual harassment or other behaviour that is clearly out of line, then it is worth overcoming your embarrassment and bringing such behaviour to the attention of the relevant authorities. Let’s see which ones they are.

Do you want to resolve your dispute with your doctor through the courts?

You will only succeed in court if the filing of the lawsuit is bulletproof. We will conduct a careful analysis of your case and take care of preparing a pre-suit notice, a lawsuit, and possibly even representation in court where we will vigorously enforce your rights.

Health Ombudsman

Some hospitals set up so-called health ombudsmen for patients. However, this is not a public institution like the Ombudsman. The health ombudsman should assess the situation independently and give you the solution you are entitled to. On the other hand, however, they are still an employee of the facility in question, who is unlikely to advise you to sue the hospital for the tens of thousands that you might be entitled to under the law in that situation. Let us add that in some cases, regional authorities also set up ombudsmen.

Health insurance companies

If you have complaints about the functioning and operation of your doctor’s office, you can contact your health insurance company, which is also your doctor’s contractual insurer. If your doctor has billed you for something he or she was not entitled to, or has billed for a procedure he or she did not even perform, the health insurer should know about it. You can also let it know about a situation where the doctor is clearly not keeping the announced office hours.

Tip: VZP informs about the possibility of filing complaints against doctors on its website.

Czech Medical and Czech Dental Chamber

In the event of grossly unethical behaviour or even suspected misdiagnosis, do not hesitate to contact one of the professional chambers, i.e. the Czech Medical Chamber or the Czech Dental Chamber. You have one year to file a complaint. A written complaint must be dealt with by the relevant chamber within six months. However, the professional chambers only deal with complaints about the behaviour of doctors, not other health professionals.

Going to court

If you believe that your health has been harmed, then mere complaints are not appropriate and you should consider taking legal action or filing a criminal complaint. As a lay person, you may not know the correct medical procedure, so it is a good idea to consult another doctor or get an expert opinion first.

Tip: We have written an article on how to proceed if you want to use the services of an expert witness.

If you are considering a claim for damages or criminal charges, do not hesitate to consult a lawyer. Accusing a doctor of malpractice is a serious matter that needs to be well argued and substantiated. You should not leave out any important detail.

An attorney can work with you to prepare a pre-suit demand letter first, in which you describe what the doctor’s faulty procedure caused you, quantifying any damages, including lost profits, for example. You should rely not only on how you feel about the treatment, but primarily on facts based on your medical records. This should be provided by your doctor within 30 days of receiving your claim. There is often a charge for this service.

If you suspect that a criminal offence may have even been committed as a result of the doctor’s actions, you can contact the law enforcement authorities.

Help from a patient organisation

Patient organisations are mainly non-profit organisations that bring together patients, their relatives and sometimes doctors. They usually focus on a particular type of illness and provide information about it, organise meetings or counselling on the topic and defend the interests of their members. It is a good idea to contact such an organisation when you need to know which medical facility specialises in your problem, which one has good experience, or what information you need to know to set up effective treatment. Organisations can also offer psychological support or the opportunity to share feelings or experiences.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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