Doctors are registered in the individual state in which they practice. A Board of Medicine or Board of Health governs the conduct of doctors in each area, although the actual name of the board will vary from state to state. If you want to file a complaint against a doctor, you will need to contact your state’s board to see what their policy on filing grievances is – each state will have its own requirements and forms to file.
According to the American Iatrogenic Association, an organization that promotes accountability for medical professional and institutions, the chances that your doctor will be disciplined are very small. However, your complaint will go on public record (with confidentiality maintained) and might alert other potential victims of the doctor and his bad practices. The association has ranked the disciplinary actions of each state’s boards in a report here. For state medical board contact information in your state, see:
Below are general tips for structuring letters of complaint.
Writing Successful Complaint Letters
From irresponsible doctors to fat-bashing media articles, fat activists must address a myriad of issues which perpetuate weight-based discrimination. But letting an organization know that they have offended you without offending them requires skill. Below are some tips that ensure your voice gets heard.
To be acted upon, your letter must first be read. And to be read, your letter must be concise and must make its point in less than 5 seconds.
Structure the letter first by drawing attention to the problem, stating the simple facts. Don’t bury your main points in a long letter. If necessary, make your main points first in a short letter, and attach the details. Next, state what you’d like to happen.
Include, as a sign-off, something complimentary about the organization: “I’ve long regarded your media company to uphold the highest standards of ethical journalism. I have every faith that you will do what you can to remedy this situation.”
If you feel comfortable, include your phone number (and time zone) for follow-up.
When people read letters, they form an impression about the writer. Asserting yourself authoritatively ensures your complain will be taken seriously; if you know your facts, then you’re assumed to have a good point. And what make a letter authoritative? Professional presentation and tone, good grammar and spelling, firmness and clarity.
First, take the time to lookup the appropriate contact person – one who has some real authority to make changes. Keep in mind, e-mails are usually read by lower service level employees. Written letters directed to senior members often get more notice.
When addressing letters, ensure the name and address details of the addressee are correct. If you copy the letter to anyone, show that this has been done (by including the abbreviation c.c. with the names of the copy letter recipients and their organizations, if appropriate, beneath the signature).
It’s been said that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and the same is true when writing letters of complaints. Threatening people generally doesn’t produce good results, nor does insulting them. A friendly tone encourages people to reciprocate and preserve good customer relations.
Take an objective, cooperative approach in your letter. Phrases like “I realize that mistakes happen…”; “I’m sure this is an isolated incident…” or “I’m not blaming anyone…” will seem more friendly, non-confrontational and non-threatening. The use of humor also works, creating a friendly, intelligent and cooperative impression.
Try to understand that, although you’re frustrated, the person reading your letter most often is only doing their job and can only work with the policy they’re given.
Include your recommended solution, but make your letter stand out by accentuating the positive. State the facts and then suggest what needs to be done to resolve the matter. Say that you’d like to find a way forward, rather than present impossible demands. Frame your complaint as a means for a company to improve things, rather than an area for confrontation and anger.
If a media organization has published a sizeist article, insist that equal space be given to present a fat acceptance piece. If you tell them you’re never reading their publication again, what incentive do they have for resolving the issue?
Explain to the company how their weight-based discrimination serves to perpetuate discrimination. But if you find responses to this appeal to be futile, revise your focus. Illustrate how the issue at-hand negatively impacts their business, and how being more size-positive will yield better financial results for them. Although the victory might be hollow, it’s a victory nonetheless.