Right to complain

You have the right to complain if you believe your rights as a patient have not been upheld, or if you believe you have not received the health or care services you are entitled to. Next of kin may also be entitled to complain.

A man submitting a complaint on a computer

Illustration: Eugenio Marongiu / Johnér Bildbyrå AB

Submitting a complaint about a doctor, hospital or other healthcare service

You can submit a complaint if you feel you have been treated poorly or unfairly by the health service. You could for example complain about a:

  • doctor
  • hospital
  • community nurse
  • home help
  • other health services

The procedure for submitting a complaint depends on what has happened. Your complaint should explain what happened, including the time and place.

Appealing against a decision

If your treatment provider has refused to provide you with something you have requested or reached a decision that you disagree with, you can submit a rights appeal.

This could for example be because you:

  • were rejected for treatment
  • were not referred to a specialist
  • were not given an appointment within a reasonable period of time
  • were not given any information or follow-up

You must first submit your appeal to the doctor’s surgery, hospital or treatment centre you wish to appeal about. This will give them an opportunity to alter their decision if they agree with your appeal.

If they still disagree with you, your appeal will automatically be forwarded to the County Governor, who will then consider your appeal.

How to submit a rights appeal.

Rights appeal form

Some hospitals or wards offer an electronic form that you can use to submit a complaint.

At present, the electronic form is used by the following hospitals in the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør Øst):

  • Oslo University Hospital HF
  • Sørlandet Hospital HF

Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital and Diakonhjemmet Hospital do not offer this service.

Request a supervisory case

If you believe that your treatment or care was not as it should have been, you can ask the County Governor to initiate a supervisory case.

This could for example be because you believe that you:

  • have been given the wrong treatment
  • have been given the wrong medicine or dose
  • were discharged prematurely
  • are dissatisfied with the care you have received

You should send your complaint directly to the County Governor. The County Governor can consider the case in one of several ways and will often initiate a supervisory case and contact the service or treatment provider. You will have the opportunity to make a statement during the process and to receive a final letter setting out the results of the investigation and the County Governor’s conclusions.

How to request a supervisory case.

Apply for compensation

If you have suffered an injury which was caused by a failure on the part of the health service, you can apply for compensation. You should then apply to the Norwegian System of Compensation to Patients (NPE), who will consider your application.

Certain conditions must be met in order for you to be entitled to compensation for a patient injury. Your injury must have been caused by a failure of treatment or care, examination, diagnosis or follow-up within the health service, and it must have led to a significant financial loss or be a significant and lasting injury. Read more about the conditions that must be met in order to be entitled to compensation (NPE).

You can also apply for compensation from NPE if you have suffered an injury as a result of the side effects of a medicine. Read more about compensation for injuries caused by medicines at NPE.

If your application for compensation is rejected, you can appeal against the decision to NPE. The deadline for receipt of appeals is three weeks. Fill in the appeal form by NPE and send it to NPE by post. If NPE does not see any reason why it should amend the decision, it will forward your appeal to the Patient Injury Compensation Board (Pasientklagenemnda) at Helseklage.

How to apply for compensation

Did not receive any help or treatment

If you have received a rejection for something which you believe you are entitled to, you can submit a rights appeal to the organisation concerned.

If the treatment centre agrees with your appeal, it will amend its decision and contact you to offer you what you are entitled to. If it disagrees with your appeal, the matter will automatically be forwarded to the County Governor, who will then consider it and respond to you by letter.

Treatment abroad

​If you have had an application for reimbursement of expenses for treatment abroad rejected, you can appeal against the decision.

Refusal to have treatment abroad

You should send your appeal to the regional health authority which made the decision. If they uphold the rejection decision, they will forward your appeal to the National Office for Health Service Appeals (Helseklage) for consideration by the Appeal Board for Treatment Abroad (Klagenemnda for behandling i utlandet). You will be notified when a decision has been made concerning your case.

Rejection of application for reimbursement of healthcare expenses abroad

If you have applied to Helfo for reimbursement of your expenses for healthcare abroad and your application was rejected either in full or regarding certain expenses, you can submit an appeal to Helfo. If Helfo upholds its decision, it will forward your appeal to Helseklage, which will then reach a decision regarding the case.
Before Helfo forwards your case to Helseklage, you will be sent a presentation of it. If you then wish to make any comments regarding the case, you can send them directly to Helseklage.

Injury resulting from treatment abroad

Have you suffered an injury as a result of malpractice or experienced other failure of treatment abroad?

You can only apply for compensation through NPE if you have received treatment abroad under an agreement between the Norwegian health service and the treatment centre concerned. You could for example have received treatment abroad due to a waiting list guarantee, or because of a lack of specialist expertise in Norway.
You cannot appeal or apply for compensation in Norway if you received treatment abroad on your own initiative. In this case, you must contact the treatment centre directly or the compensation scheme in the country concerned, if there is one.

Next of kin can also appeal

​As a next of kin, you can appeal that your rights as a next of kin were not upheld. You can also appeal on behalf of friends or family who are unable to appeal themselves.

You will normally need to have power of attorney or be appointed as a guardian with a mandate to safeguard personal interests in order to appeal on behalf of someone else, although there are some exceptions.

As regards mental healthcare, next of kin have the right to appeal against decisions to require consent in order to undergo mental healthcare, and against decisions to:

  • initiate or cease compulsory observation or compulsory mental healthcare
  • shielding and extension of shielding
  • restrictions on the patient's links with the outside world
  • checking of rooms, belongings and body searches
  • confiscation of drugs, etc.
  • drug testing of biological material
  • use of coercive measures in institutions for overnight stays
  • transfer without consent

You can then submit your appeal to the Supervisory Commission (Kontrollkommisjonen).

If a decision is made to administer medication coercively or to initiate treatment for a serious eating disorder, the patient’s next of kin may also appeal the decision to the County Governor.

Next of kin also have the right to appeal to the County Governor regarding compulsory healthcare for patients who do not have the competence to give their consent, and regarding compulsory intervention concerning persons with developmental disabilities.

It helps to appeal

The County Governor upholds around one third of complaints submitted by people who believe they have not received the health and care services they needed.

In such cases, the County Governor will amend the decision directly or ask the health service to reconsider the case.