What is the Grievance Committee? The object of the Grievance Committee of the Whatcom County Medical Society (WCMS) is to consider grievances arising between physicians and patients and the related problem.
The Grievance Committee meets on call and is comprised of seven physicians in various specialties of the practice of medicine and surgery. A complaint concerning a hospital is not handled by WCMS and should be forwarded to the Grievance Committee of the hospital involved.
So that we might review your complaint as quickly as possible, yet have ample time to carefully consider each and every aspect of the case, we use form letters whenever possible, with the exception of our final recommendation. Please be assured that your complaint is receiving personal and careful attention.
We emphasize the fact that the Grievance Committee earnestly attempts to make an impartial judgment of all available facts and information. When a patient has a valid complaint, it is to the advantage of the medical profession that action, when justified, should and must be taken.
The release of information form merely gives your consent to allow the Grievance Committee to review your confidential records from the physician. Medical ethics and HIPPA provide that such records are privileged communication and cannot be released to a third party unless consented to by a patient.
For your information, WCMS Bylaws state, "Either the Committee, complainant, or the accused physician to a non¬disciplinary grievance may appeal the result of the review to the Board of Trustees provided written request of appeal is given within fifteen (15) days from the date of the complete review of the Committee."
You have been asked to discuss this matter with the physician. We find that in many instances, when the doctor and patient sit down and talk over misunderstandings, matters can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. For this reason, we request that if you have not already done so, you discuss your complaint with the doctor involved.
If you still wish to file a grievance, please download and print the Statement of Grievance and Medical Records Release form; fill them out, mark the envelope "CONFIDENTIAL"; and mail both to:
Whatcom County Medical Society
800 East Chestnut Street, Suite 3B
Bellingham, WA 98225
Or call (360) 676-7630.