Most of us feel pretty helpless navigating the health care industry. Use these simple steps to get a little justice next time your health care professional doesn't act so professionally.

First, you need to teach yourself what standards doctors/health care professionals are held to. The best way to do this is to visit the website of the agency that licenses doctors and health care professionals to practice their trade. That website can be found at www.medbd.ca.gov. It's the Medical Board of California. There is a tab at the top of the main page for "Laws/Regulations." There you'll find a listing of laws, sorted by topic, that govern the practice of medicine. Figure out what are your complaint falls into and do a little reading. The more language you use in your letter that comes from the actual statutes that govern their behavior, the more effective your letter will be.

Research your particular doctor's past. On the Medical Board website, there is a tab on the left-hand side of the main page called "Check your doctor." This leads you to a form where you can input as much information as you know about your doctor, first or last name, license number, city/county, etc. After doing so, this database wil pull up any records that exist of documented complaints and actions taken by the board against your doctor previously. This is extremely useful for your purposes because any past complaints only further solidify the validity of your complaint against the doctor.Make reference to the fact that your aware of this past malfeasance in your letter - it will scare the living daylights out of them and surely get their attention focused on addressing your problem.

Google your doctor's name. There is a wealth of information on the internet these days and as I'm sure you're beginning to sense, the theme here is that you're trying to make your letter sound as professional and thereby serious as possible. If, in your Google search, you find out your doctor graduated from the Government Medical College of Nagpur, for example, follow up on that. Look up the medical professional standards in India - where Nagpur is located - and point out to her that her behavior is violating those standards as well.

As you begin to draft your letter, make sure you use a professional format. You can find standard examples and templates in any Microsoft Word or similar program. Do NOT hand write this letter. Type it.

As you write your letter, start by talking about the professional standards your doctor should adhere to, which you've already gathered from your research on the Medical Board website and you Google of your doctor. Then lay out the exact behavoir which violated these standards, including details like length of time you've been receiving treatment from this doctor, any known conditions relating to this malfeasance, date of treatment when the malfeasance occured, etc. Splice references to any known prior misconduct, relating it to the conduct your complaining about if possible.

Include a deadline. The last thing you should make sure to include in your letter is a time period within which you expect the doctor to respond to rectify the situation. Usually two to three weeks is appropriate. Include in the language that if you do not hear from anyone by that date, your attorney or you will be forced to follow up with legal action. Whether or not you decide to do this in the end is up to you, but at least this language supports the impression that your serious and you won't be left hanging in limbo until they decide to get around to you.

Now your letter is ready to send! At this point you need to decide if you want to "cc" - carbon copy - anyone else. Example of people you might send a copy of this letter to are the Medical Board, your attorney, if you already have one, any supervisor of your doctor, the HMO office if your doctor works for an HMO, etc. This is a strategic decision you have to make. Sending the letter immediately to your doctor's supervisor or the board may make him less willing to negotiate with you if he thinks he now has to protect his name. On the other hand, if you feel your complaint is so righteous that he can't save his name or credibility once others know, then you may wish to go ahead and copy others on the letter. Think it through...then stamp it!


If your doctor does not practice in the state of California, Google "medical board" along with the name of whatever your state is to find the corresponding website for your states laws governing the practice of medicine.