DTC Competition: Reflecting on a Complaint with Emily Black

The first entry for the competition I'm running with Dental Training Consultants and Dental Protection is from Emily Black who is studying at Bristol Dental School...

Emily, dental student from Bristol University

When my clinical studies were suspended due to COVID-19, I began working as an NHS 111 Health Advisor. One of the lessons has been how to deal with complaints. 

One of the most interesting calls I received was from a male patient in his mid-sixties. He was incredibly difficult to get information out of; I struggled to take his demographics, to find out where he was, and he launched into a tirade of symptoms. While not the most obvious from the history, I picked up that the patient was suffering from chest pain. I went through the appropriate pathway, and when asking if the pain felt like a previous heart attack the patient out cried ‘well of course it does, why would I be calling otherwise’ (!!). 

I told the patient an emergency ambulance was required and that I was going to arrange it for him. It resolved the patient had been to hospital the day before, and he claimed that he had been left in a corridor and had walked out. He, therefore, did not want me to arrange the ambulance for him. I negotiated and reassured him that it was needed, despite the rudeness and complaints at the inadequate care he believed he had received. After further triage, I could hear sirens in the background and told the patient that it was likely the crew arriving. 

Suddenly, the attitude of the patient transformed. He apologised profusely to me and thanked me for helping him. I was incredibly proud of this call, and it taught me that sometimes stress can come out in the most curious of ways. Staying professional despite adversity in this call showed me that staying calm and actively listening while continuing to act in a patient's best interest, can change everything (and even save a life!).

Look out for more entries for the competition coming soon!

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