Tips and Tricks on How to Handle Difficult Patients

9 Simple Techniques for Dealing with Difficult Patients - Grey's Anatomy™  Scrubs

Being a nurse means having to deal with stubborn and difficult patients and their families, and sometimes it is hard to keep the situation in control and explain, especially when they don’t want to listen, so here are some tips and tricks on how to handle difficult patients:

4 Types of Difficult Patients:

  1. Dependent Clingers

These are the kind of patients who have already established a relationship with their previous doctors. They flatter their physicians into providing them with special privileges such as a personal phone. Email, or permission for after-hours communications. This soon becomes ever-increasing demand.

To avoid this problem, you need to reestablish a firm interpersonal boundary. Reassure them that they will not be abandoned, schedule brief follow-ups at regular intervals to check up on them, and provide the clingy patients with written instructions between visits so that they would feel more secure.

  1. Entitled Demanders

The entitled demanders are those types of patients who like to tell you what types of tests to order or the type of medication that you should prescribe to them. 

Under this facade are helpless and powerless people who are anxious and scared, so rather than arguing with them, you could try the supportive-empathic-truth statement and just collaborate and compromise with them. Discuss what is the most effective way to do this and explain why to ease the anxiety that they are feeling.

  1. Manipulative Help-Rejecting Complainer

The Manipulative Help-Rejecting Complainer is those patients that drag physicians through an endless cycle of help-seeking and help-rejecting. In their eyes, the doctor is never satisfactory and they keep coming back with new requests.

Make it clear that you are on their side and you are open to collaborate with them. Agree only to truly necessary interventions and treatments and perform the procedures that are only what is mutually agreed upon.

  1. Self-Destructive Denier

These are the types of patients that knowingly continue the behaviors that are dangerous to them, like a person with a bad liver who drinks, or a person that has been diagnosed with lung disease that still smokes. 

These are the patients that feel hopeless and they are often suffering from undiagnosed depression or anxiety disorders. The best way to handle these kinds of patients is to refer them to a mental health professional.

How do you handle difficult patients?

How do you deal with an uncooperative patient? And how do you handle difficult patients and families? These are usually unavoidable and could increase your stress levels, depending on your patience. Here are a few tips on how to handle difficult patients:

  1. Watch Your Body Language

The most appropriate thing to do is sit down since this shows that you have time to solve the problem. The way that your body moves could easily tell the story of your emotions better than your words do. You should control your words, tone, body language, and overall response to get the outcome that they desire.

  1. Acknowledge the Situation

You should always start by saying “I understand why you are upset” or “I feel our communication has been broken down”. This gives them a sense of comfort that they need to open up to you. You should remain calm, and take stock of your own emotions too, since any negative language may lead to escalation of the situation.

  1. Don’t Get Defensive

The anger of the patients probably did not originate during their visit, or it is not geared towards you specifically. It is most likely triggered by something else, like the situation that is currently going on in their lives. You have to be sure that you should keep your perspective straight and your minds open to the appropriate solutions to the issues that they are facing. It is best to respond with care and concern.

  1. Let them Tell Their Story and Listen Quietly

Sometimes sitting down, listening, and letting them vent out what they are feeling could easily reveal the source of their concern, leading to faster solutions. It is best that you wait for them to calm down so that you could take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, then respond. 

  1. Set Boundaries

You should keep yourself professional. Keep yourself, your patients, and your colleague by staying in control while you are defusing the situation. If you could feel or notice the patient getting increasingly angry, it’s okay to end the consultation if you think that the situation is not going to improve and your life and your colleagues’ life are in danger.

Difficult patients could create unpleasant situations and have a negative effect on the whole work environment. Be sure to keep the environment as calm as possible and keep looking at situations with the glass half full. If you are looking for a job, there are a bunch of per diem RN work from home nursing jobs that you could inquire for.

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