The Israeli Ministry of Health attributes significance to the issue of patients' complaints in mental health settings. A Public Petition Commission was established in Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center, Netanya, Israel, in 1997 and includes representatives from the medical, nursing and social work sectors. We examined the ombudsman's activities in Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center – as a representative institution for mental health centres – in an effort to characterize those who sought the services of the ombudsman and the treatment of the petitions. We also evaluated treatment of the complaint across time, the satisfaction of the complainant and the factors that influenced satisfaction.
The files of those who sought the services of the ombudsman prior to and during the six-month duration of the study were examined using a predetermined checklist, and those who approached the ombudsman were contacted and asked whether or not they were satisfied with the treatment of their petition/complaint, and what factors influenced their level of satisfaction. Though solutions were found for only 55% of the problems, 88% of the patients reported satisfaction with the treatment of their petitions and complaints. Beyond the resolution of complaints, the office of the ombudsman improves dialogue with patients and their families, continuously improves in-patient care and perhaps reduces future complaints.
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