A Taxonomic Review of Patient Complaints in Adult Hospital Medicine

Richard M. Elias, Karen M. Fischer, Mustaqeem A. Siddiqui, Trevor Coons, Cindy A. Meyerhofer, Holly J. Pretzman, Hope E. Greig, Sheila K. Stevens, M. Caroline Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies show that patient complaints can identify gaps in quality of care, but it is difficult to identify trends without categorization. We conducted a review of complaints relating to admissions on hospital internal medicine (HIM) services over a 26-month period. Data were collected on person characteristics and key features of the complaint. The complaints were also categorized into a previously published taxonomy. Seventy-six unsolicited complaints were identified, (3.5 per 1000 hospital admissions). Complaints were more likely on resident services. The mean duration between encounter and complaint was 18 days, and it took an average of 12 days to resolve the complaint. Most patients (59%) had a complaint in the Relationship domain. Thirty-nine percent of complaints mentioned a specific clinician. When a clinician was mentioned, complaints regarding communication and humaneness predominated (68%). The results indicate that the efforts to reduce patient complaints in HIM should focus on the Relationships domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Patient Experience
StatePublished - 2021


  • hospital medicine
  • patient complaints
  • patient satisfaction
  • physician communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Leadership and Management


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