How to Handle Difficult Patients

As a health care professional, you come in contact with many people on a daily basis. Every patient is unique and each person has their own personality. It’s great when you can build a good rapport with patients and everything runs smoothly, but unfortunately, there are patients who can make your work more challenging than it already is.

Difficult patients can be needy, demanding, and question everything you do. They take up a great deal of time and energy, and can put you in a testy mood very quickly if you don’t know how to deal with them. Here are a few tips that may help you create better relationships with patients…

Work On Communication Skills

Oftentimes we’re quick to blame the patient for being “difficult”, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Is your behavior and way of communicating not up to par? Perhaps your lack of communication is making the patient question your actions. Spend an extra moment or two with the patient to really listen to their needs and make sure to answer their questions thoroughly. If this person in front of you was a loved one, how would you treat them?

Set Boundaries

There are patients who want you to be at their beck and call. They feel entitled to demand whatever they want and may even manipulate you into thinking that you should cater to their unreasonable requests. However, it’s OK to say no. Explain to them why you are denying their request and encourage them to express their concerns. It all goes back to proper communication between you and the patient.

Be Compassionate

Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. They’re probably just as stressed out as you are. Even the most difficult patient has a soft side if you remain calm and treat them with respect. Granted, there are patients who will just be downright rude, aggressive, and disrespectful, but keep in mind that they may be acting out because they feel anxious, scared, and unsure of what is happening. Ease their nerves by listening to what they have to say instead of reacting to their actions.

Your ability to communicate and relate to patients is critical to strengthening your confidence and authority as a healthcare professional in addition to reducing the risk of medical malpractice. Remember that every patient does have the right to safe and appropriate medical care. Most of the time all a patient needs is someone who will simply listen to them.

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