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Nursing Complaint

Suggestions for Your Nursing Complaint Response

nursing complaint response

It’s a simple fact – complaints against nurses are common, anyone can lodge a complaint against any nurse. Whether you have three months or 30 years of experience as a nurse, there is a chance that you may eventually be the focus of a nursing complaint investigation. When you receive an initial complaint letter, this can be overwhelming and stress-inducing, especially if you have no knowledge about your Board of Nursing and how to respond to a complaint investigation by your Board. 

One of the most important things to keep in mind with the nursing complaint investigation process is that saying the right or wrong thing in your initial response can make all of the difference in the long run. This blog will cover some of the most critical things to focus on and what to avoid when responding to, and dealing with complaints in nursing, and share why is your best resource for effectively dealing with and responding to nursing complaints. We focus on the PROCESS of responding to your State Board of Nursing, no matter the state, the process is always similar.

Do Not Trivialize The Patient’s situation, diagnosis, or Concern

This concept is incredibly important. Even if you feel the complaint against you is unfair, fails to take all the facts into account, or has been lodged in bad faith– do not patronize, minimize, negate or attempt to correct the complainant’s experiences, especially if you think it may have been lodged by a patient or family member. It defeats the effort that you want to achieve, that you are a professional nurse, if you minimize, negate or disrespect the complainant or the process. The Board wants to ensure the complainant feels valued and listened to, and how you respond can undermine your credibility, and can imbue the entire investigatory process with an air of spite and antagonism. Avoid confrontation or retort, never be sarcastic, and never ever use profanity. Your job as a nurse is a professional one. Your response to a complaint against you should reflect that. Ensure each issue identified in the complaint letter is addressed in your response. Generally, you have a right to request the records involved in the investigation, and as pointed out in, you should make this request as soon as you receive the letter of investigation.

how to deal with patient complaints as a nurseYou can always include circumstances that may justify your actions.

Your response to the nursing board is the appropriate channel to explain mitigating circumstances, not by making blatant excuses or arguments that are defensive and have no documented support, but if there are legitimate mitigating factors, the Board will generally listen to these and include those concepts and references in their evaluation of the issues. You do not want to argue in an angry manner, be sarcastic, or sound as if you are pushing back only on your own behalf without justification. Your response should be free of defensive, adversarial language, or phrasing that may imply indifference on your part or irreverence toward the situation or the patient’s concerns.  Instead, you will want to, where appropriate, acknowledge the legitimacy of the complaint with sincerity and indicate that you are willing to listen and will cooperate fully with all proceeding investigatory measures. This does not mean for example, that if poor staffing was an issue involved in the situation or event, that you should not bring that up in your response. has several examples of actual Responses that can be downloaded and used by you for reference as you draft your own response to your Board of Nursing.

You can include issues that may Implicate Another Care Provider or Larger Care Network if correct, and if you can substantiate that argument. Again, has several examples of responses used in real circumstances that can be helpful to see how you can explain mitigating circumstances that may be relevant in your situation.

If your failure to adhere partially or fully to nursing Policies and Procedures, regulations or protocols was a product of someone or something else, your response to the Board is the place to explain this. The purpose of a nursing complaint investigation is to elucidate all matters concerning the complaint. If in fact the cause of your complaint can be traced to the behavior of another, or poor training or policies, you need to mention this in a professional manner so that it can be something that the investigation will consider. We offer examples of responses that are examples that can be used in your response if the situation calls for that type of explanation.

In the face of a complaint, you may want to bring up other scenarios or situations in which everything was handled correctly, in which you engaged in proper behavior or protocol. Unrelated circumstances or past behaviors, while they may have no exact bearing on the current complaint, can illustrate that your typical practice is to do the right thing. You can mention your clinical care and treatment, and mention that this event does not illustrate your typical practice. While you should stay focused on the purported cause of your complaint, this may involve other circumstances as mentioned above.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge about the Process of Responding to a Board of Nursing Complaint

Whether you are dealing with a complaint or not, let provide you with valuable information about the nursing world and invaluable guidance on how to deal with complaints lodged against you as a nurse. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind platform. Join today and arm yourself with knowledge and peace of mind.