The purpose of this study is to describe and compare the systems for handling patient complaints in the Netherlands and Sweden. The study is based on document analysis and interviews with executive managers and employees in the patient complaint systems in the Netherlands and Sweden. In comparison to Sweden, the Netherlands has a decentralised complaint system with functions closer to the patients. In spite of this, the demand on the Swedish complaint system is higher. The two countries differ in patients' rights legislation in that the Netherlands has a separate legislation for patients' rights, which is not the case in Sweden. In both countries it appears that not only legislation is needed to strengthen the patients position. Actions that improve the independent position of some provisions within the complaint systems as well as actions that will facilitate the possibilities to make use of all functions in the patient complaint systems also seem to be important.