Complaints are best resolved at the lowest possible level. This does not always imply a formal written response. Many minor complaints can be resolved on a one-to-one basis, following which a short letter can be sent to the patient saying that you are pleased the complaint is now resolved. This sympathetic contact can make a significant difference in terms of continuing patient loyalty.
In the majority of cases, however, a written response is likely to be appropriate. This may include an explanation, reassurance, an apology, an offer of compromise or a way forward. It is important to decide in advance exactly what message you wish to convey in a letter. Not everyone is skilled at letter writing but always choose your words carefully.
Remember that your response is likely to be looked at by others at some stage and therefore any temptation to criticise the patient should be resisted. The more reasonable and professional your written response, the more credit you will be given at any subsequent hearing of the complaint.