Complaints made against doctors are increasingly important given the current emphasis on consumerism in the National Health Service and the publication of the report of the Wilson Committee which reviews complaints procedures. There have also been recent changes in medical indemnity and increased litigation. The origins of complaints made against psychiatrists were studied. Most complaints were made by relatives and advocates rather than the patients themselves and half were made after the patient was discharged from hospital. It was found that most complaints arose out of a breakdown of communication between psychiatrist and patient.
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