Health Ministry Analyses Complaints about Treatment of Women in Hospitals

Total Croatia News

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ZAGREB, November 10, 2018 – The Health Ministry issued a statement on Friday saying that an analysis of complaints submitted by the parents association “Roda” in a campaign called “End the silence” regarding the unprofessional treatment of women by medical staff showed that most of the 401 complaints refer to female patients’ dissatisfaction with the administration of anaesthesia during medical procedures, lack of communication or inappropriate communication and the unprofessional conduct of medical staff.

The ministry notes that the number of 401 complaints over a period of more than 15 years (the oldest complaint dates back to 1983) is a relatively small number but that it considers even one complaint to be too many.

It notes that since 400 of the complaints were anonymous and many did not contain information on the time when the events in question occurred or the name of the medical institution concerned, inspections could not be carried out in those cases.

A ministry task force entrusted with analysing the complaints nonetheless analysed all individual complaints and conducted inspections in seven hospitals. The inspections, focusing on gynaecologists, were carried out to check the lawfulness of medical procedures and the professionalism of medical staff, with emphasis on the availability of various types of anaesthesia at childbirth and invasive procedures in gynaecology and obstetrics, the ministry said.

A preliminary analysis established certain differences in the organisation of anaesthesiology health services and anaesthesia administration procedures, with the task force concluding that each patient has the right to adequate anaesthesia in line with medical indications.

Commenting on the recent case of Member of Parliament Ivana Ninčević Lesandrić, who publicly spoke of her negative hospital experience following a miscarriage, and whom the ministry identified only by her initials, the ministry described the procedure applied at the Split Clinical Hospital’s emergency service in cases of miscarriage, noting that inadequate communication may be the reason why patients do not understand medical procedures and the types of anaesthesia applied.

As for reports of inappropriate communication or unprofessional conduct, collected in the “End the silence” campaign, the ministry says that it could not establish facts in those cases because the complaints were anonymous. “However, even if there were such cases, the Health Ministry considers them unacceptable, condemns them and expresses regret at them,” the ministry says calling on all women patients who have complaints about the quality of healthcare to report their experience immediately to the relevant medical institutions’ administration and cite as many relevant data as possible.

It says that based on its analysis, the Health Ministry task force has defined a set of measures to improve healthcare for women.

“Doctor-patient communication is to be improved at all levels of healthcare for women. Medical institutions have the obligation to ensure formal theoretical and practical education in communication skills for employees at all levels, and their obligation is to undergo such training.

“Every woman has the right to adequate analgesia and anaesthesia. Medical staff have the duty to explain to every woman the possibilities of various types of analgesia and anaesthesia as well as indications and counter-indications for their use, with all advantages and risks,” the ministry says, noting that rules for the application of different types of analgesia and anaesthesia for specific procedures should be defined by the Croatian Medical Chamber.

The ministry task force also proposes zero tolerance to inappropriate and/or unprofessional conduct and advises patients who encounter such conduct to report it immediately to the relevant medical institutions so that legally defined procedures could be launched.

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