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Who do I contact to file a complaint about patient care? Patient advocate I don’t trust.

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Hi there I have been having issues with various VA providers over the course of time. Rudeness and not so nice comments as well. I am not wanting to rock the boat, But I would truly like to address my concerns without fear of Retaliation from the VA. I also don’t think the patient advocates are worth two nickels. With someone please help and suggest who I can write a letter to. Would it be the chief of staff?  Head of the patient advocates?  The directors office?  Or the director of the VISN?  Please help as I am at a loss. Thanks. 

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Well I am not sure who you would write a letter to, but I can tell you what I would do.

I would try to talk to who ever the complain this about and try to work things out if that don't satisfied you  then 

I would go see the VAMC Director  him/herself in person.

go to their office  and have your notes /progress notes in hand that you want to complain about  make sure you have their names what clinic they work out of and their credentials  and or if they are outside providers  name and location of the medical provider and let this director know all about your complaints  and ask this  to be an official complaint ...Make sure this is what you want to do.

Normally the VAMC Hospital Director is who you need to talk with.

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Some facilities have more than one patient advocate. I had bad results with one at my facility, so I tried another and got good results.

Per @Buck52's recommendation, the VAMC Director is another option. Just keep in mind that every time I have tried to speak to my VAMC Director in person, they were either not in their office or were in meetings. Keep in mind you might have to wait for them to be available, come back later, or possibly make an appointment.

Around 2006, I had one patient advocate literally run down the hall and get me before I could get to VAMC Director. With that level of motivation, I gave them a chance and they actually delivered. 

The patient advocates have had departmental chiefs call me a couple of times. I didn't always agree with their opinion, but at least my issues got handled.

You can also contact the White House VA Hotline 1-855-948-2311. They are there 24x7 and are staffed with veterans. They cannot get you instant results, but depending on the situation they can put in a ticket and get someone to look into the issue. I have had mostly good results from them, but a couple of times the ticket was closed without anyone ever calling me back. I ended up putting in another ticket to complain about just that.

If it is a safety issue, contact the safety coordinator. Every VAMC has one.

You could also contact your Congressional representative.

The VA has an initiative that was started last year called KOVI. It stands for Keep Our Veterans In House. All the nurses at my VAMC got a plastic lanyard tag that says this, plus "It is the goal of the VAMC to keep our veterans in hourse by: providing high quality healthcare, ensuring superb coordination of care, providing timely access to care, and creating an unmatched veteran centered patient experience.

With the VA Mission Act going into effect in 2019, they rolled out a renovation to customer service. They realized that veterans now have the ability to get treated at non-VA providers (not across the board though), so they want to try to give them a reason to want to stay with the VA. I was admitted a few years ago and the nurses who tended to me had an entitlement attitude. It was a bad experience. But then I was admitted a few weeks ago and it was a completely different experience. The nurses were fantastic with some . Unfortunately, not every VA employee got the message or cared about it. Yeah, they are people too, but the least they could do is be nice to us. As long as you keep it civil and don't lose your temper, you should be ok and not worry about rocking the boat. If it is something that is really stressing you, the Veterans Crisis Line is always staffed 24x7. 1-800-273-8255, press 1. I have called them a couple of times over the years after dealing with some VA stupidity, especially if it causes me to lose precious sleep. They helped me decompress. They can also get you a consult to speak with a VA counselor, if necessary.


I have had some issues with bungling VA staff. I have had an LPN gave me an injection overdose, an x-ray tech accidentally knock me down with their equipment, and a clinic clerk tell me they would be with me in a minute after they finished texting their boyfriend. Yes, all of these things happened. I don't complain about every little thing wrong at the VA. I always complain if it involves safety or rudeness.

Remember, the only reason why the VA exists is to help veterans like you and me.

I hope this helps.

Edited by Vync
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yes its best to make an appointment to see your hospital director,,certain date and time.  they stay pretty busy.

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Thanks guys. Yes it helps a hell of a lot. And thanks for taking the time. It’s a definite rudeness issue coming from a couple providers. A couple instances are within the last few weeks. And yes it’s stressing me out to a severe degree. I got into a pretty nasty at fault car accident two weeks ago on my way down to the VA for a group. Not all of course. Of course the VA has been a huge blessing in my life as well. In regard to the benefits I receive. I’m eternally grateful for that. I just don’t want to feel like I’m being emotionally invalidated or treated rudely. This is a handful of incidents. And not the majority. But it has been affecting me. I just feel it’s necessary to politely address it with the VA. I have went to like to patient advocates in the past. Both times I got absolutely nowhere. And I also read a lot of negative examples with advocates from tons of other vets online. So I’m jaded. And I read that I can write to the VA director, or even the VISN director. What concerns me the most though, is if I do this, the VA may retaliate. And VA care is all I have I don’t want to risk losing that. I don’t want to piss people off. I just don’t want this additional mental stress to continue to burden me, as I have enough to contend with. Yes, I did call the White House hotline, They were actually pretty knowledgeable. But I did not open up a complaint with them yet. And by the way I did place a phone call to the directors office a few weeks ago, or administrative offices. Somebody did tell me that would have the supervisor of the patient advocates call me. That was three weeks ago still no phone call. My thoughts are to likely take this to the directors office though I’m not sure if I should expect any results from even doing that. 

Edited by daroosta
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I already wrote an 1800 word letter. I would like to bring that with me and read it in front of one of the directors. I don’t know if that’s possible to get a impersonal meeting with a  director though. IRIS suggests writing a letter and sending it. But that may be quite a long time before one gets a response by doing it that way?  Not sure. 

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At my VAMC, Veterans have access to the VAMC director, and can complain there.  I do have a few suggestions:

1.  Limit those complaints to things that "CAN" be fixed.  For example, I was referrred to physical therapy.  When I called to make an appointment, the "person who makes appointments" had a 2 month vacation, and so no new appointments could be made until she returned.  Well, I needed PT, and waiting 2 months then another month for the appointment didnt make sense to me.  So I went to the directors office and it resulted in an appointment in 3 days.  

2.  I suggest you "narrow down" your complaints to one or two, rather than throw a full bucket of complaints at them.  

3.  Remember, those low level employees that offended you probably had a bad day, and maybe you have spouted off and said things you regretted once or twice.  Its easier to fix our own attitude than to try to fix the attitude of everyone you come in contact with.  Remember this:


Getting angry is a choice.   When we "delegate" the choice of whether or not we get angry to others, we give someone to whom we have very little respect great power over us.  How do we do that?  We do it every time we say, "You make me mad whenever you ___________."  For me, I would rather NOT Give SOMEONE I have little respect for the authority to control my emotions.  I will keep that authority with me, thank you very much.  Frankly, I trust my own choices better than I do theirs.   If they want to be a jerk, then so be it.  Im taking "the higher ground", by not permitting my own emotions to be based exclusively on their bad behaviour.  


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