What is a Hospital Ombudsman?

This marks the first post on this blog and it seems that a bit of explanation might help to get us started.

The dictionary (or whatever the modern version of that book is) might define ‘hospital ombudsman’ as an ‘objective person, who hears grievances and complaints and makes judgements as to what might be corrective action’. In a hospital setting, the people who usually bring forward complaints are usually people who use the system (patients or family members!!). I think that definition mostly works but I would add some of the following attributes:

  • Someone who is here to help you manoeuvre through this complex and complicated system—i.e. a human GPS with more personality;
  • Someone who will be able to get your concerns and messages through to the right people so that correct actions can take place—i.e. think a combination of an intelligent computer, Ma Bell and UPS;
  • Someone who will be able to help you sort out what is reasonable and what is not reasonable—i.e. think psychiatrist without OHIP billing number and no drugs;
  • Someone who will listen and help you feel better and cared about—i.e. think Mother Teresa!

And why, might you ask, do I think that anyone would be interested in reading this blog?

Well there are lots of blogs (and books, articles, associations, etc) written by former users of the health care system where the key message is that their experiences were awful and “if only someone had been there on the inside to help”… well, that’s us.

There are also lots of health care professionals who write blogs (and books, articles and make speeches) who sound as if they have it all together and yet, when it comes to it—not so much.

There are lots of ‘pundits’ who seem to ‘know it all’ and yet beyond sounding very knowledgeable and critical of the system, (the doctors, the nurses, the parking, the food, the electronic health record, the art, the budget, the signage)…when it comes down to it they can only punditize ..we can  ‘DO SOMETHING’.

So what will we present on our blog?

  1. Concrete, practical advice, suggestions and information about how to navigate through this system (at UHN specifically);
  2. Information and education about specific issues or themes that other patients bring forward;
  3. Information about the achievements, changes, improvements that have occurred at this hospital because of people coming forward with concerns and complaints;
  4. An insider’s look at conflict and the resolution of that conflict;
  5. Patient Stories… the good, the bad and the inspiring!;
  6. Personal rants.

And I might just say one more thing..the UHN Ombudsman at UHN is not just one person…

We are several people and every one of us will have a chance to share their views on this blog. We each have different personalities and writing styles and in time you will be able to identify each of us, I think, and you will also be able to develop your own preferences.

Oh, by the way, ombudsman is a gender neutral terms… none of this ‘ombudsperson’ stuff. It’s too hard to say, you might chip a tooth and we are trying to cut back on airborne infections so stop spraying!

More to follow.


3 thoughts on “What is a Hospital Ombudsman?

  1. I am a highschool senior interested in becoming a hospital or health service ombudsman. What kind of college education and/or training is needed to become ready for your job? Thank-you.

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