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Objective To determine the frequency, nature (using standardized coding taxonomy), and temporal trends of patient complaints about the radiological service provided in a European tertiary care center. Methods This retrospective study included all written patient complaints received by the department of radiology of a European tertiary care center within a 9-year period. Results A total of 94 written patient complaints were included. Overall complaint frequency was 14.4 per 100,000 radiological procedures. Complaint frequencies per 100,000 procedures were 103.7 for interventional radiology, 13.9 for MRI, 6.9 for ultrasonography, 6.5 for CT, 4.5 for fluoroscopy, and 1.2 for conventional radiography. Interventional radiology received significantly more complaints than all other radiological procedures (p <0.001), and cross-sectional imaging (CT, MRI, and ultrasonography) received significantly more complaints than conventional radiography (p <0.001). Fifty-three (56.4%) complaints belonged to the clinical domain, 22 (23.4%) to the relationships domain, and 19 (20.2%) to the management domain. Quality (34.0%), safety (22.3%), timing and access (18.1%), and communication (18.1%) constituted almost all complaint categories. Patient journey (19.1%), delays (18.1%), communication breakdown (16.0%), errors in diagnosis (11.7%), quality of care (9.6%), treatment (6.4%), and staff attitudes (2.1%) constituted almost all complaint subcategories. Annual frequency of complaints decreased over time (Mann-Kendall tau = - 0.429), although not significantly (p = 0.174). Conclusion Written patient complaints directed to a department of radiology at a European tertiary care center are relatively few in number and have not shown a temporal increase. Knowledge of sources of patient dissatisfaction may help to reduce the number of patient complaints and improve patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5395-5402
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number10
Early online date22-Mar-2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2019


  • Hospital-patient relations
  • Patient-centered care
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Radiology

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