Objective To evaluate the nature of complaints from patients with functional neurological disorders and understand the reaction of UK neurology consultants to receiving complaints from this patient group.
Methods A voluntary anonymised online retrospective survey was advertised to UK consultant neurologists. Questions asked about the nature of the complaint, how it was dealt with, how it affected their emotional wellbeing, attitude to work, and whether it influenced their clinical practice. The frequency of total responses was analysed. Respondents were given opportunities to add comments.
Results Responses from 58 clinicians were included. The majority of complaints stemmed from patients not agreeing with their diagnosis. Respondents felt that complaints from patients with functional disorders tended to be more involved and personal than other complaints. Lack of awareness about functional conditions among non-specialists was also a common theme. For many respondents, the complaint adversely affected their emotional wellbeing. Following the complaint, defensive practice was more common, and working patterns were altered.
Conclusions Complaints from patients with functional neurological disorders appear more difficult to resolve than other complaints, and clinicians who deal with them often become the ‘second victim’ in the process leading to potentially adverse effects on patient care. Strategies to tackle these issues are discussed.
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