Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: Medical clinics often conduct polls by telephone or by distributing questionnaires in the clinics, to determine if patients are satisfied with their services. Questions relate to the quality of doctors’ services and their accessibility, the quality of medical treatment, hygiene, location, etc. Additional comments can be written on the lines provided.

I am generally satisfied with the medical service in our clinic, and will express this on the questionnaire. I am, however, unhappy with the service of the secretaries, because they are, in my opinion, impatient and not eager to assist patients.

I want to know if it is permissible to write this in the comments section, for the constructive purpose of improving service.

 A: The secretaries’ poor service can fall into one of two broad categories:

Poor working conditions and management, which may include insufficient staffing, faulty equipment, uncomfortable environment, being overburdened or even being unaware of their exact duties. All of these can affect the secretaries’ efficiency.

Faulty character traits: the secretaries are nervous or impatient people, easy to anger or lacking in basic middos tovos.

If the inferior service stems from any of the reasons listed in #1, then no specific party can be blamed, and the general management of the clinic needs improvement. You may thus note this in your comment, and emphasize that you are not blaming the secretary, because the problem is due to understaffing, substandard equipment, etc.

Regarding personal imperfections, there are two choices. If there is a chance that you can approach the secretary directly and she’ll accept your reproof and change her attitude towards patients, then it is forbidden for you to comment. However, if you know that she won’t pay attention to your criticism, then it is permissible to write this in the survey, especially if her faults are common knowledge among patients. Complaints should be written in moderation, in accordance with the conditions of lashon hara l’toeles — especially not to exaggerate, and to intend improvement and not revenge.


The following questions and answers were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.