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Concerns and Complaints

What is a concern?

A concern is an issue, care, trouble, or distress that someone has about a residency or fellowship program and/or its sponsoring institution that creates uncertainty and apprehension. Examples include: inability to access one’s file; fear and/or intimidation within the program or institution; resident well-being issues; untimely verification of residency/fellowship education; inability to obtain a date for a grievance hearing; abuses of power or discretion.

How to Submit a Concern about a Residency or Fellowship Program

A concern is an issue, care, trouble, or distress that someone has about a residency or fellowship program and/or its sponsoring institution that creates uncertainty and apprehension. Concerns cannot be used to adjudicate individual disputes between individual persons and residency/fellowship programs or sponsoring institutions regarding matters of admission, appointment, contract, credit, discrimination, promotion, or dismissal of faculty members, residents, or fellows.

Before a concern is submitted, the concerned individual should utilize all of the resources available in the program and sponsoring institution unless there is a valid reason for not doing so.

Anyone may submit a concern by mail, fax, or e-mail.

Be sure to include the following:

  • - a brief summary of the issues, including steps taken - if relevant
  • - the name, street address, city, and state of the residency or fellowship program
  • - your contact information

To Submit a Concern:

E-mail: residentservices@acgme.org
Fax: 312.755.7498

ACGME Staff:
Amy Beane, Manager, Office of Resident Services

Mail:
Office of Resident Services
ACGME
401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60611

What is a Formal Complaint?

A formal complaint pertains to chronic and routine non-compliance with ACGME Institutional and Program Requirements.

Formal complaints may affect the accreditation of a residency or fellowship program or institution.

How to Submit a Formal Complaint about a Residency or Fellowship Program or Sponsoring Institution

Complaints may affect the accreditation status of the program and/or sponsoring institution.

Sponsoring institutions and their programs that are accredited by the ACGME are expected to comply with the ACGME’s Institutional and Program Requirements. The ACGME and its Review Committees address only matters regarding non-compliance with ACGME accreditation requirements. Formal complaints should, therefore, allege violations of ACGME requirements.

Through its formal complaint process, the ACGME will investigate potential non-compliance with accreditation requirements that relate to program quality. The ACGME does not adjudicate disputes between individual persons and residency or fellowship programs or sponsoring institutions regarding matters of admission, appointment, contract, credit, discrimination, promotion, or dismissal of faculty members, residents, or fellows.

Anyone having evidence of non-compliance with accreditation requirements by a program or sponsoring institution may submit a complaint to the ACGME. Such complaints must be submitted in writing, bear the name and address of the complainant(s), and be signed by the complainant(s). However, before a complaint is submitted, the complainant should utilize all of the resources available in the program and sponsoring institution unless there is a valid reason for not doing so.

You may submit your signed complaint by mail, fax, or e-mail.

Be sure to include the following:

  • - a brief summary of the allegations of non-compliance with ACGME requirements, including any documentation or evidence  (please review the ACGME Institutional Requirements and the Program Requirements for your specialty on the ACGME website)
  • - the name, street address, city, and state of the residency or fellowship program
  • - your contact information

To submit a formal complaint, send your signed letter via e-mail, fax, or mail to:

E-mail: krohn@acgme.org
Fax: 312.755.7498

ACGME Staff:
Kristin Rohn, Complaints Officer

Mail:
Office of Resident Services
ACGME
401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2000
Chicago, Illinois 60611

FAQs About Concerns and Complaints

What are the biggest differences between a concern and a formal complaint?

Concerns may be submitted anonymously, and do not affect the accreditation of a program or institution. Resident Services works with the designated institutional official (DIO) at your institution and asks that he or she launch an internal investigation of the allegations in a concern letter. The DIO will then report back to the ACGME with the findings from the investigation and any proposals for improvements or changes.

Formal complaints may affect the accreditation of a program or institution and, therefore, must be signed and include the complainant’s name and contact information. The program director and DIO will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations in a formal complaint. The Review Committee for the specialty in question considers the allegations in the complaint, as well as the program’s and institution’s response, and decides whether further investigation is warranted. If the Review Committee believes further investigation is warranted, it may request a clarifying information report, progress report, or schedule a site visit. The Review Committee could decide that the complaint allegations have been adequately addressed and that the complaint should be closed with no further investigation.

May I submit a concern anonymously and confidentially?

Yes. The ACGME accepts anonymously-submitted concerns. We will also strive to maintain the confidentiality of the individual who submits a concern. There may be times, however, when Resident Services may need to reveal your identity to the program director and DIO in order to advocate for fair process and to identify options and strategies for resolution; however, we would never do so without your permission.

Providing your name and contact information when submitting your concern enables Resident Services staff members to inform you about the actions taken in response to your concern, and also to contact you should additional information be needed.

Is there a time limit for submitting concerns?

Yes. Concerns that occurred prior to the current and preceding residency/fellowship year should not be submitted.

Must I inform my program director and/or the designated institutional official (DIO) of my concern(s) before contacting Resident Services?

You should utilize all the resources available in your program and/or institution before submitting a concern to Resident Services, unless you have a valid reason for not utilizing these resources first. For example, if your concern involves the program director and DIO, and you feel that the existing channels of communication or dispute resolution have proven unsatisfactory.

The DIO is the person in your institution’s graduate medical education (GME) office who has oversight over all of the programs at the institution. Many DIOs have different titles within the institution (i.e., Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education). Contact your GME office to find the DIO. You can also find this information on the ACGME website under “Sponsoring Institutions.”

Will submitting a concern affect the program’s and/or institution’s accreditation status(es)?

Submitting a concern will not affect the program’s and/or institution’s accreditation status(es).

Will I be given a copy of the DIO’s response to my concern?

No. All communications between the ACGME and programs and institutions are confidential. We are happy to inform you of the outcome of the concern investigation, but cannot provide specific detailed information that was submitted in response to a concern.

Through the Concern Process, does Resident Services address individual residency/fellowship credit and contract issues?

No. Neither process addresses individual residency/fellowship credit and contract issues.

Through the Concern Process, does Resident Services address allegations of discrimination?

No. Discrimination may be a legal employment issue, and it is best handled by a lawyer or a legal organization. If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination, it is recommended that you contact your institution’s Human Resources Department, Legal Counsel, Compliance Officer, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.eeoc.gov).

Does Resident Services act as a mediator or adjudicator for concerns?

No. Resident Services does not mediate or adjudicate individual disputes. Resident Services functions on an informal basis by such means as: listening; providing and receiving information; identifying and reframing issues; or developing a range of responsible options. When possible, Resident Services helps individuals develop new ways to solve problems themselves.

Can Resident Services assist residents and fellows in finding another residency or fellowship position?

No. Resident Services does not find positions for residents and fellows.

Can Resident Services provide legal advice?

No. The ACGME is an accreditor, not a legal organization.

May I submit a formal complaint anonymously and confidentiality?

The ACGME does not accept anonymous complaints. Formal complaints must be signed and include the name of the complainant and his or her contact information.

 It is important to note that Resident Services will not reveal a complainant’s name to the program or sponsoring institution, unless the complaint is about the lack of due process and/or the complainant gives the ACGME permission to share his or her name.

Will my original complaint letter be shared with my program director, DIO, and the ACGME Review Committee?

No. The ACGME will not share an original complaint letter with the complainant’s program director, DIO, or the relevant ACGME Review Committee unless a complainant gives the ACGME permission to share the letter. If a complainant wishes for the Review Committee to see their original letter, the complainant must also give the ACGME permission to share the letter with the program director and/or DIO.

Is there a time limit for submitting formal complaints?

Yes. Allegations of non-compliance that occurred prior to the current and preceding residency/fellowship year should not be submitted.

Must I inform my program director and/or the designated institutional official of my formal complaint(s) before contacting Resident Services?

As with concerns, you should utilize all the resources available in the program and/or institution before submitting a formal complaint to Resident Services, unless you have a valid reason for not utilizing these resources first. For example, if your formal complaint involves the program director and designated institutional official and you feel that the existing channels of communication or dispute resolution have proven unsatisfactory.

Who is my designated institutional official (DIO)?

The DIO is the person in your institution’s graduate medical education (GME) office who has oversight over all of the programs at the institution. Many DIOs have different titles within the institution (i.e., Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education). Contact your GME office to find your DIO, or

Will submitting a formal complaint affect the program and/or institution’s accreditation status?

Submitting a formal complaint may affect the program’s and/or institution’s accreditation status(es). The program director and DIO will be asked to provide a signed response to a formal complaint, and the relevant Review Committee will consider the formal complaint and render a decision, which may affect the program’s and/or institution’s accreditation status(es).

Will I be given a copy of the program director’s and DIO’s response to my formal complaint? Will I receive a copy of the Review Committee’s decision?

No. All communications between the ACGME and programs and institutions are confidential. The ACGME will inform complainants as to whether or not the accreditation of the program was affected, but is not at liberty to provide more detailed information.

Through the formal Complaint Process, does Resident Services address individual residency/fellowship credit and contract issues?

No. Neither process addresses individual residency/fellowship credit and contract issues.

Through the formal Complaint Process, does Resident Services address allegations of discrimination?

No. Discrimination may be a legal employment issue, and it is best handled by a lawyer or a legal organization. If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination, it is recommended that you contact your institution’s Human Resources Department, Legal Counsel, Compliance Officer, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.eeoc.gov).

Does Resident Services act as a mediator or adjudicator for formal complaints?

No. Resident Services does not act as a mediator or adjudicator for formal complaints. Resident Services addresses only matters regarding non-compliance with the published institutional and/or program requirements and does not adjudicate individual disputes between persons in residency or fellowship programs or sponsoring institutions.

Can Resident Services assist residents and fellows in finding another residency or fellowship position?

No. Resident Services does not find positions for residents and fellows.

Can Resident Services provide legal advice?

No. The ACGME is an accreditor, not a legal organization.

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