Health care in Alberta is handled through Alberta Health Services (AHS) which fully integrates 12 formerly separate health care entities in the province. The AHS is responsible for receiving, investigating, and responding to complaints regarding the services afforded to patients as per the Patients Concerns Process Regulation (Alberta Regulation 124/2006). Though information is available online, patients are encouraged to begin dialogues with the Patient Relations department if they want to submit a complaint.
Concerns, feedback, and access to additional information is also available through the 24/7 HEALTHLink Alberta service which is toll-free within the province.
Helpful tips for navigating the site
Recently update information on Alberta's complaints process can be found on their website, and is available in English. For the most up-to-date information, patients are advised to call the Patient Relations Department directly. A phone number, fax number and mail address are given along with a link to a web address for online feedback. Once the department receives your complaint you will be assigned to a representative who will contact you to clarify your concerns and walk you through the process.
Government Health & Wellness, Resolving Concerns
If you have concerns regarding a specific area of Alberta health care you can access contact information for individual services through this website. The website advises you on how to proceed if your complaint is related to such areas as mental health services, ambulance services, nursing home care, health insurance, privacy issues and more. Under the category Patient concerns about care received, the site recommends that you contact Patient Relations through the Patient Feedback site (see above).
Steps in the complaints process
If you are still under the care of your physician or undergoing treatment, you can file your complaint directly with the service provider or manager. If you are no longer a patient of the physician, then contact the Patient Relations Department directly.
- The Patient Relations Department is responsible for attempting to resolve the situation working directly with you (the complainant) and the physician.
- If the solution is not satisfactory, then the concern will be advanced to the Patient Concerns Officer (Executive Director of the Patient Relations Department), who will perform a review. If your case falls outside the pervue of Patient Relations, the Officer has the option of referring you to the Alberta Ombudsman.
- At the level of the Alberta Ombudsman, the file will be reviewed by a Complaints Analyst to determine jurisdiction. The file will then undergo an Alternative Complaint Resolution, a Formal Investigation, or no action will be taken.
How long will this take
Once you have contacted the Patient Relations Department you will receive a call from a representative within three business days. The length of time for the entire complaint process will vary on a case-to-case basis.
There are no standard outcomes to the process, as each is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If the decision of a Patient Relations Department representative is unsatisfactory, the file will be passed on to the Patient Concerns Officer who will either advance the file to the Alberta Ombudsman, or the appropriate professional organization (e.g. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta). In the instance that the medical staff to which the complaint was addressed find themselves aggrieved by the decision, the Hospital Privileges Appeal Board is available to assist them.