Complaints about health care

You may want to make a complaint if you are unhappy with the medical care and treatment you, or someone you care for, have received. Complaints about health care may be about the quality or type of care, possible negligence issues, or concerns about how your personal and medical information has been used, shared or disclosed.

It is usually best to try to resolve the problem directly with the doctor, clinic, hospital, or health provider. There are organisation which may be able to help if you cannot resolve the issue.

Find out:

  • how to make a complaint about a health practitioner or treatment
  • what health services you can complain about, and
  • who can help you make a complaint.

How do I make a complaint about my health treatment?

You should first attempt to resolve the issue directly with the health service provider (for example, your doctor or hospital). You can do this in writing or in person. Keep a record of any discussions, letters or emails relating to your problem.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at that level, you can complain to the:

  • Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO)
    HaDSCO is a free service for complaints relating to health, disability and mental health services provided in WA or the Indian Ocean Territories. Complaints must normally be made within 2 years after the treatment was provided (unless there is good reason for the delay). Complaints can be submitted online, by completing a paper form, or by calling (08) 6551 7600 or 1800 813 583 (country freecall).

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
    AHPRA manages investigations into the professional conduct, performance or health of registered health practitioners, in partnership with national registration boards. You can make a notification or express concerns to AHPRA about a registered health professional or student online, by completing a paper Notification Form, or by calling 1300 419 495.

APHRA oversees a wide range of registered health practitioners, including: chiropractors, dentists, doctors, nurses and midwives, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and those registered with the Chinese Medicine Board, the Medical Radiation Practice Board and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Health Practice Board. 

If a complaint about a registered health professional is made to HaDSCO, it is required to consult with the AHPRA to determine which agency is the most appropriate to deal with the complaint. 

What if my complaint is about negligence by the health service?

If you think you have not received proper treatment or care, you should get legal advice about whether or not you could make a claim relating to professional negligence

What if I want to complain about how my personal health information has been used or disclosed? 

Generally, you should first make a complaint directly to the hospital or health service. Keep a record of any discussions, letters or emails relating to your complaint. 

If the complaint cannot be resolved at that level, you can complain to the:

The OAIC's role includes investigating complaints about the mishandling of health information in an individual’s eHealth record. 

What if I have a complaint about Medicare?

You should firstly discuss it directly with Medicare staff. If you are not happy with their response, you can ask to speak to their manager. Complaints about Medicare can also be made to the Department of Human Services in writing, online, or by calling 1800 132 468.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint with the Department of Human Services, you can lodge a complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

What if I have a complaint about my private health insurer?  

You should firstly discuss the issue directly with your health insurer or provider. If you are unhappy with a decision made by the insurer, you may also have the right to have the decision reviewed internally by the insurer.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint, you can make a complaint to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman in writing, online, or by calling 1300 362 072.

 

Get help  

The Health Consumers' Council may be able to assist you with making your complaint to your health service provider. You can call the Council on (08) 9221 3422 or 1800 620 780 (country callers).

More information

 

Reviewed: 13 June 2018

National Legal Advisory Service for the Disability Royal Commission

A free legal advice service for members of the public who want to participate in the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.