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Maintaining professional identity: doctors' responses to complaints

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This paper reports on the findings of three empirical studies, conducted by the authors, of how doctors respond to complaints about medical care. We found that doctors respond to complaints with a range of negative emotions, and interpreted complaints as a 'challenge' to their competence and expertise as professionals, not as issues troubling the complainant or as legitimate grievances. The interview data show that the way in which doctors talked about complaints and accounted for them drew on their understandings of their work world. We suggest that this helped them maintain a sense of control, and argue that this not only sustains individual security but also reinforces professional identity and serves the interests of professional politics. However, we conclude that this reaction to complaints goes against the spirit of resolving complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant which is currently the aim of systems for quality assurance.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26597/

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