Reporting Violations of European Charter of Patients’ Rights: Analysis of Patient Complaints in Croatia

BACKGROUND The European Charter of Patients' Rights (ECPR) presents basic patients' rights in health care. We analysed the characteristics of patients' complaints about their rights submitted through the official complaints system and to a non-governmental organization in Croatia. METHODS The official system for patients'complaints in Croatia does not have a common pathway but offers different modes for addressing patient complaints. In this cross-sectional study, we analysed the reports about patients' complaints from the official regional committees sent to the Ministry of Health. We also analysed the complaints received by the Croatian Association for the Protection of Patient's Rights (CAPR) and mapped them to the ECPR. RESULTS The aggregated official data from the Ministry of Health in 2017 and 2018 covered only 289 individual complaints from 10 out of 21 counties. Complaints were most frequently related to secondary and tertiary healthcare institutions and details were not provided. CAPR received a total of 440 letters, out of which 207 contained 301 complaints about violations of patients' rights in 2017-2018. The most common complaint was the Right of Access to health care (35.3%) from the ECPR, followed by the Right to Information (29.9%) and the Right to Safety (21.7%). The fewest complaints were about the Right to Complain (1.9%), Right to Innovation (1.4%), Right to Compensation (1.4%), and Right to Preventive Measures (1.0%). CONCLUSIONS Reporting and dealing with patients' complaints about violations of their patients' rights does not appear to be effective in a system with parallel but uncoordinated complaints pathways. Mapping patient's complaints to the ECPR is a useful tool to assess the perception of patients' rights and to plan actions to improve the complaints system for effective health care.
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