REGULATIONS OF THE BEN COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE 
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DEFINITION OF TERMS

Article 1
For the purposes of applying the provisions in or by virtue of these regulations, these terms shall be defined as follows:
a. Practitioner: a self-employed sonographer, who performs diagnostic medical sonography and who is a member of BEN and/or adopted this complaints procedure, and the legal entity, as referred to in Art 1.c under 1 and 2 WKCZ, that performs diagnostic medical sonography and that can use this complaints procedure with approval from BEN;
b. Complaint: every objection expressed against the actions or performance of the practitioner, coming from the user of the practitioner's services;
c. Client: a natural person who wishes to use, uses or used the services or care provisions of the practitioner;
d. Complainant: the person who submits a complaint.
The persons who may act as complainant are the client himself, a representative appointed by the client or the statutory representative of the client, the authorised agent for a person who is unable to act in person, the surviving next of kin of a client who has died.
Next of kin who play a direct role in the care for a client may also complain about the care for the client and about the conduct of the practitioner in respect of themselves. In both latter situations this is only possible with consent from the client;
e. Respondent: the person at whom the complaint is directed. This is the person – the practitioner himself of a person employed by him/her – who was directly involved with or bears responsibility for the matter put forward by the complainant in his complaint;
f. BEN: Dutch Professional Association of Sonographers for Obstetrics and Gynaecology;
g. Complaints Committee: an independent committee, accessible and available to a complainant, set up by BEN and charged with investigating and issuing a decision on complaints of clients;
h. Complaint handling: an investigation into the complaint submitted to the Complaints Committee, resulting in a decision about the merits of the complaint that is not legally enforceable and a possible recommendation to the practitioner about measures to be taken as a result of the complaint.
OBJECTIVE AND PRINCIPLES OF THE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Article 2
The aim of the complaints procedure is:
a. To do justice to the individual client with due regard to the justified rights/interests of the practitioner and persons employed by him;
b. To contribute to improving the quality of a sonographer's actions by systematically recording the submitted complaints and detecting possible quality shortfalls demonstrated by the complaints and the complaints procedure.

Article 3
The principles of the complaints procedure as recorded in these regulations are:
a. Independent and impartial complaint handling, expressed in the composition of the Complaints Committee;
b. Dealing carefully and confidentially with the details that become known to the Committee in the framework of complaint handling;
c. The principle of hearing both sides of the argument.
 

TASKS AND POWERS OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE

Article 4
The tasks of the Complaints Committee include:
a. Dealing independently and impartially with clients' complaints about an ultrasound they were given;
b. Insofar as necessary, issuing recommendations to the practitioner as a result of the complaint handling to improve the quality of the ultrasound and/or to the Association regarding opportunities to improve monitoring and promoting the quality of ultrasound;
c. To prepare an annual report that sets out the number and nature of the complaints processed by the Complaints Committee;
d. Insofar as necessary, to coordinate the activities with other eligible persons and services that have a task in dealing with clients' complaints.

Article 5
A complaint is inadmissible if:
- The complaint was submitted anonymously;
- The complaint was submitted on behalf of a client who does not consent and whose consent is required;
- The Complaints Committee dealt with the complaint before and new facts have not been presented;
- A similar complaint by the client is still being processed by the Complaints Committee;
- The complaint does not pertain to a practitioner who adopted this complaints procedure or the persons employed by him/her.
The Complaints Committee does not deal with claims for damages. However, at the complainant's request it can make a decision about the underlying conduct that led to the claim for damages submitted by the complainant.

Article 6
The Complaints Committee can deal with complaints regarding sonographers who are not a member of the Association if the relevant sonographer stated to have adopted the complaints procedure and paid the contribution determined by the Association. Otherwise this scheme applies in full force in that situation.

Article 7
In order to perform its task, the Complaints Committee has the following powers:
a. To obtain information and to consult and inspect documents, insofar as this takes place with specific consent from the client (authorisation) or an authorised person, and except for details that pertain to third parties;
b. To call and interview persons who are involved directly with the submitted complaint;
c. To engage experts.
 

COMPOSITION AND APPOINTMENT OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE

Article 8
The Complaints Committee consists of at least three and no more than seven members, including an independent Chairperson. The Chairperson may not be or have been employed by BEN and is preferably a lawyer with knowledge of health law. 
The members of the Complaints Committee are appointed by the Board of the Association. The Board of the Association also appoints the deputy members.
The Board may only remove a member's membership of the Complaints Committee due to apparent incompetence.
The members of the Complaints Committee receive an attendance fee suitable for the office and the activities.

Article 9
Appointment to the Complaints Committee is for a maximum period of three years. Reappointment is only possible on two occasions, each time for the same period of maximum three years. Deputy membership can be converted into membership and in the same manner membership can be converted into deputy membership. The total mandate may not exceed three periods of three years.
The Complaints Committee prepares a stepping-down schedule for the members and their deputies.

Article 10
The Complaints Committee may appoint a Secretary from its members. The Board of the Association may decide to provide the Complaints Committee with an administrative secretary who performs supporting activities for the benefit of the Complaints Committee. An administrative secretary is not a member of the Complaints Committee.

Article 11
Generally the Complaints Committee meets once a year and furthermore as often as the Chairperson deems necessary. The meeting preferably takes place with attendance by all members of the Complaints Committee. The meeting is in chambers. The Chairperson prepares the agenda for the meeting together with the Secretary. The Chairperson ensures that all received complaints and other important documents are sent to the Committee members well in advance. In the event of a long-term absence of the Chairperson, the Committee appoints a Deputy Chairperson.
 

WORKING METHOD OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE WHEN DEALING WITH A COMPLAINT

Article 12
A complaint is submitted in writing to the secretariat of the Complaints Committee. The secretariat ensures that receipt of confirmation is sent to the complainant within one week, which also informs the complainant of the remainder of the procedure. The authorisation required to process the complaint is included for signing.

Article 13
If the Complaints Committee is of the opinion that the complaint contains insufficient information, it provides the complainant with the opportunity to provide additional information in writing within two weeks.

Article 14
The secretariat forwards the complaint to the respondent within two weeks of receipt of the authorisation with the request to respond in writing within three weeks. If the respondent is unable to respond within the imposed period due to illness, absence or force majeure, the Complaints Committee shall determine a new period within which to respond.

Article 15
The secretariat forwards the written response from the respondent to the complainant within two weeks of receipt.

Article 16
Both parties are entitled to access to and copies of all documents and information used by the Complaints Committee to form its opinion.

Article 17
The complainant, the respondent and the persons involved with the procedure who should be interviewed in the opinion of the Complaints Committee shall be called by the Complaints Committee for a hearing. If the Committee believes that a written procedure is sufficient or if both parties state not to require a hearing, the Committee may refrain from calling a hearing. In that case there will be a second round in writing. In choosing the location of the hearing, the domicile of the complainant shall be taken into account where possible. On behalf of the Complaints Committee the hearing shall always be attended by the Chairperson and at least one member-sonographer.

Article 18
The complainant and the respondent may choose to be assisted by an adviser. The Chairperson of the Complaints Committee determines which other persons may attend the hearing as observers.

Article 19
The Complaints Committee provides a report of the hearing and of the statements of the persons concerned and any experts.


Article 20
The opinion about the merits of the complaint is preferably taken in consensus by the full Committee. If this is not possible the decision is adopted by a majority of votes. If votes are tied, the Chairperson has the casting vote. Where necessary, the decision may be accompanied by a recommendation to the practitioner.

Article 21
Within four months of receipt of the authorisation, the decision is sent in writing to the complainant, the respondent, and if this is not the same person to the practitioner. If this term proves unfeasible, the complainant and the respondent receive notification with reasons which also indicates a new timeframe.
Within one month of receipt of the Complaints Committee's decision, the practitioner informs the complainant, the respondent and the Complaints Committee in writing as to whether it will take measures following the decision regarding the complaint and if yes, which measures.
In the event of departing from the period of one month, the practitioner informs the complainant, the respondent and the Complaints Committee in writing whilst stating reasons, and notes the period within which it shall express its point of view. The practitioner shall substantiate any departure from the advice or the recommendations from the Complaints Committee.

Article 22
The complaints procedure does not have the option of appeal.

Article 23
In all cases, the complainant retains the option to turn to another appropriate external complaints body, such as the Central Medical Disciplinary Tribunal, and civil or criminal courts.
If the complaint concerns a liability and/or a complex professional situation, the Complaints Committee may advise the client to put the complaint before a more appropriate body in view of dealing swiftly with the complaint. If the complainant insists on the Complaints Committee dealing with the complaint in those cases, it shall limit itself to a general opinion on the conduct that was the cause of the complaint. The Complaints Committee shall refrain from an opinion about liability
and about a claim for damages.


DISSATISFACTION WITH THE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Article 24
In the event of dissatisfaction with the complaints procedure, the complainant or the respondent may turn to the BEN Board.
If the complainant is of the opinion that the complaints procedure and/or its implementation does not comply with statutory requirements and the implementing body does not deal with its objections, it may present those to the supervisory body, the Healthcare Inspectorate, referred to in the WKCZ. However, it is not possible to lodge a content-based appeal on the decision in the framework of this complaints scheme with those bodies.

DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY, CHALLENGE AND IMMUNITY

Article 25
The members and deputy members of the Complaints Committee are obliged, including after their resignation, to maintain confidentiality in respect of all the information that may be deemed confidential that they took cognisance of by virtue of their membership of the Complaints Committee. This provision also applies to the administrative secretary and other persons involved with the procedure.

Article 26
If a complaint pertains to a member of the Complaints Committee or a member of the Complaints Committee is involved indirectly with the complaint, this member shall refrain from participating in the complaint handling.
The respondent or the complainant may report any complaints against one or more members of the Complaints Committee, substantiated with reasons, to the Complaints Committee. The Complaints Committee shall take a decision on the understanding that the challenged member cannot take part in this decision making.

Article 27
A member of the Complaints Committee can withdraw voluntarily from the procedure.
 

FINAL PROVISIONS

Article 28
The Complaints Committee can prepare rules of procedure. 

Article 29
The Complaints Committee does not charge costs to the complainant or the respondent. The costs of calling an adviser, see Article 18, are at the expense of the party that calls on the adviser.

Article 30
The complainant may decide to withdraw the complaint. The complainant and the respondent are informed in writing of the cessation of the complaints procedure, whilst stating reasons. After a complaint has been withdrawn, the Complaints Committee may:
- Issue advice at its own initiative to the practitioner in question;
- Issue an anonymous signal to the Board of BEN;
- In the event of a suspected criminal offence or a situation that poses considerable danger to others, it may consider reporting to the Healthcare Inspectorate or another body.

Article 31
The Complaints Committee is authorised to report to the Healthcare Inspectorate:
- If a complaint concerns a serious situation of a structural nature. This refers to a complaint about a situation that concerns irresponsible care;
- If the same founded complaint occurs in respect of a specific practitioner on more than three occasions;
- If a respondent did not cooperate adequately with implementing the complaints procedure on at least three occasions.
If the Complaints Committee considers reporting it shall start by providing the practitioner in question with the opportunity to take responsibility himself. In the event of a report, the Committee shall record its reasons for deciding to report and how the caution and care in respect of the complainant, respondent, practitioner and any other persons concerned is safeguarded.
The complainant is informed of the report in advance. In the event of a report that does not concern a possible criminal offence, the complainant's/client's consent is asked insofar as it concerns details that can be traced back to the complainant or the client.

Article 32
The Complaints Committee issues an annual report about its activities that complies with the conditions as set out in or by virtue of the Client's Right of Complaint (Healthcare Sector) Act (WKCZ). The annual report does not include details that can be traced back to individual persons. The Complaints Committee ensures a copy of the annual report is sent to the Board of the Association which deals with its further dissemination.

Article 33
The Regulations were most recently amended in February 2014.

TASKS AND POWERS OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE

Article 4
The tasks of the Complaints Committee include:
a. Dealing independently and impartially with clients' complaints about an ultrasound they were given;
b. Insofar as necessary, issuing recommendations to the practitioner as a result of the complaint handling to improve the quality of the ultrasound and/or to the Association regarding opportunities to improve monitoring and promoting the quality of ultrasound;
c. To prepare an annual report that sets out the number and nature of the complaints processed by the Complaints Committee;
d. Insofar as necessary, to coordinate the activities with other eligible persons and services that have a task in dealing with clients' complaints.

Article 5
A complaint is inadmissible if:
- The complaint was submitted anonymously;
- The complaint was submitted on behalf of a client who does not consent and whose consent is required;
- The Complaints Committee dealt with the complaint before and new facts have not been presented;
- A similar complaint by the client is still being processed by the Complaints Committee;
- The complaint does not pertain to a practitioner who adopted this complaints procedure or the persons employed by him/her.
The Complaints Committee does not deal with claims for damages. However, at the complainant's request it can make a decision about the underlying conduct that led to the claim for damages submitted by the complainant.

Article 6
The Complaints Committee can deal with complaints regarding sonographers who are not a member of the Association if the relevant sonographer stated to have adopted the complaints procedure and paid the contribution determined by the Association. Otherwise this scheme applies in full force in that situation.

Article 7
In order to perform its task, the Complaints Committee has the following powers:
a. To obtain information and to consult and inspect documents, insofar as this takes place with specific consent from the client (authorisation) or an authorised person, and except for details that pertain to third parties;
b. To call and interview persons who are involved directly with the submitted complaint;
c. To engage experts.
 

COMPOSITION AND APPOINTMENT OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE

Article 8
The Complaints Committee consists of at least three and no more than seven members, including an independent Chairperson. The Chairperson may not be or have been employed by BEN and is preferably a lawyer with knowledge of health law. 
The members of the Complaints Committee are appointed by the Board of the Association. The Board of the Association also appoints the deputy members.
The Board may only remove a member's membership of the Complaints Committee due to apparent incompetence.
The members of the Complaints Committee receive an attendance fee suitable for the office and the activities.

Article 9
Appointment to the Complaints Committee is for a maximum period of three years. Reappointment is only possible on two occasions, each time for the same period of maximum three years. Deputy membership can be converted into membership and in the same manner membership can be converted into deputy membership. The total mandate may not exceed three periods of three years.
The Complaints Committee prepares a stepping-down schedule for the members and their deputies.

Article 10
The Complaints Committee may appoint a Secretary from its members. The Board of the Association may decide to provide the Complaints Committee with an administrative secretary who performs supporting activities for the benefit of the Complaints Committee. An administrative secretary is not a member of the Complaints Committee.

Article 11
Generally the Complaints Committee meets once a year and furthermore as often as the Chairperson deems necessary. The meeting preferably takes place with attendance by all members of the Complaints Committee. The meeting is in chambers. The Chairperson prepares the agenda for the meeting together with the Secretary. The Chairperson ensures that all received complaints and other important documents are sent to the Committee members well in advance. In the event of a long-term absence of the Chairperson, the Committee appoints a Deputy Chairperson.
 

WORKING METHOD OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE WHEN DEALING WITH A
 COMPLAINT

Article 12
A complaint is submitted in writing to the secretariat of the Complaints Committee. The secretariat ensures that receipt of confirmation is sent to the complainant within one week, which also informs the complainant of the remainder of the procedure. The authorisation required to process the complaint is included for signing.

Article 13
If the Complaints Committee is of the opinion that the complaint contains insufficient information, it provides the complainant with the opportunity to provide additional information in writing within two weeks.

Article 14
The secretariat forwards the complaint to the respondent within two weeks of receipt of the authorisation with the request to respond in writing within three weeks. If the respondent is unable to respond within the imposed period due to illness, absence or force majeure, the Complaints Committee shall determine a new period within which to respond.

Article 15
The secretariat forwards the written response from the respondent to the complainant within two weeks of receipt.

Article 16
Both parties are entitled to access to and copies of all documents and information used by the Complaints Committee to form its opinion.

Article 17
The complainant, the respondent and the persons involved with the procedure who should be interviewed in the opinion of the Complaints Committee shall be called by the Complaints Committee for a hearing. If the Committee believes that a written procedure is sufficient or if both parties state not to require a hearing, the Committee may refrain from calling a hearing. In that case there will be a second round in writing. In choosing the location of the hearing, the domicile of the complainant shall be taken into account where possible. On behalf of the Complaints Committee the hearing shall always be attended by the Chairperson and at least one member-sonographer.

Article 18
The complainant and the respondent may choose to be assisted by an adviser. The Chairperson of the Complaints Committee determines which other persons may attend the hearing as observers.

Article 19
The Complaints Committee provides a report of the hearing and of the statements of the persons concerned and any experts.


Article 20
The opinion about the merits of the complaint is preferably taken in consensus by the full Committee. If this is not possible the decision is adopted by a majority of votes. If votes are tied, the Chairperson has the casting vote. Where necessary, the decision may be accompanied by a recommendation to the practitioner.

Article 21
Within four months of receipt of the authorisation, the decision is sent in writing to the complainant, the respondent, and if this is not the same person to the practitioner. If this term proves unfeasible, the complainant and the respondent receive notification with reasons which also indicates a new timeframe.
Within one month of receipt of the Complaints Committee's decision, the practitioner informs the complainant, the respondent and the Complaints Committee in writing as to whether it will take measures following the decision regarding the complaint and if yes, which measures.
In the event of departing from the period of one month, the practitioner informs the complainant, the respondent and the Complaints Committee in writing whilst stating reasons, and notes the period within which it shall express its point of view. The practitioner shall substantiate any departure from the advice or the recommendations from the Complaints Committee.

Article 22
The complaints procedure does not have the option of appeal.

Article 23
In all cases, the complainant retains the option to turn to another appropriate external complaints body, such as the Central Medical Disciplinary Tribunal, and civil or criminal courts.
If the complaint concerns a liability and/or a complex professional situation, the Complaints Committee may advise the client to put the complaint before a more appropriate body in view of dealing swiftly with the complaint. If the complainant insists on the Complaints Committee dealing with the complaint in those cases, it shall limit itself to a general opinion on the conduct that was the cause of the complaint. The Complaints Committee shall refrain from an opinion about liability
and about a claim for damages.


DISSATISFACTION WITH THE COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Article 24
In the event of dissatisfaction with the complaints procedure, the complainant or the respondent may turn to the BEN Board.
If the complainant is of the opinion that the complaints procedure and/or its implementation does not comply with statutory requirements and the implementing body does not deal with its objections, it may present those to the supervisory body, the Healthcare Inspectorate, referred to in the WKCZ. However, it is not possible to lodge a content-based appeal on the decision in the framework of this complaints scheme with those bodies.

DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY, CHALLENGE AND IMMUNITY

Article 25
The members and deputy members of the Complaints Committee are obliged, including after their resignation, to maintain confidentiality in respect of all the information that may be deemed confidential that they took cognisance of by virtue of their membership of the Complaints Committee. This provision also applies to the administrative secretary and other persons involved with the procedure.

Article 26
If a complaint pertains to a member of the Complaints Committee or a member of the Complaints Committee is involved indirectly with the complaint, this member shall refrain from participating in the complaint handling.
The respondent or the complainant may report any complaints against one or more members of the Complaints Committee, substantiated with reasons, to the Complaints Committee. The Complaints Committee shall take a decision on the understanding that the challenged member cannot take part in this decision making.

Article 27
A member of the Complaints Committee can withdraw voluntarily from the procedure.
 

FINAL PROVISIONS

Article 28
The Complaints Committee can prepare rules of procedure. 

Article 29
The Complaints Committee does not charge costs to the complainant or the respondent. The costs of calling an adviser, see Article 18, are at the expense of the party that calls on the adviser.

Article 30
The complainant may decide to withdraw the complaint. The complainant and the respondent are informed in writing of the cessation of the complaints procedure, whilst stating reasons. After a complaint has been withdrawn, the Complaints Committee may:
- Issue advice at its own initiative to the practitioner in question;
- Issue an anonymous signal to the Board of BEN;
- In the event of a suspected criminal offence or a situation that poses considerable danger to others, it may consider reporting to the Healthcare Inspectorate or another body.

Article 31
The Complaints Committee is authorised to report to the Healthcare Inspectorate:
- If a complaint concerns a serious situation of a structural nature. This refers to a complaint about a situation that concerns irresponsible care;
- If the same founded complaint occurs in respect of a specific practitioner on more than three occasions;
- If a respondent did not cooperate adequately with implementing the complaints procedure on at least three occasions.
If the Complaints Committee considers reporting it shall start by providing the practitioner in question with the opportunity to take responsibility himself. In the event of a report, the Committee shall record its reasons for deciding to report and how the caution and care in respect of the complainant, respondent, practitioner and any other persons concerned is safeguarded.
The complainant is informed of the report in advance. In the event of a report that does not concern a possible criminal offence, the complainant's/client's consent is asked insofar as it concerns details that can be traced back to the complainant or the client.

Article 32
The Complaints Committee issues an annual report about its activities that complies with the conditions as set out in or by virtue of the Client's Right of Complaint (Healthcare Sector) Act (WKCZ). The annual report does not include details that can be traced back to individual persons. The Complaints Committee ensures a copy of the annual report is sent to the Board of the Association which deals with its further dissemination.

Article 33
The Regulations were most recently amended in February 2014.

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