The healthcare industry plays a vital role in ensuring patients are able to gain access to the medical services needed to treat everything from the common ailment to a more deadly disease. While nurse practitioners and nurses strive to provide the highest level of care to every single patient, there are times when patients can be difficult to deal with.
A in the International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that at least 20% of patients in healthcare settings are perceived as being difficult to deal with by the staff. There are many reasons why patients may become difficult, including pain, the inability to be patient, and more. When you are faced with such a situation, remaining compassionate can feel like a challenge. We take a look at a step-by-step strategy that you can use to deal with these patients who are considered difficult.
Stay Calm When Dealing with a Difficult Patient
One of the most crucial factors that you need to practice when a patient becomes difficult is to remain calm. The patient might be in pain, and they may not want to wait – if you become agitated, then it will simply make them even more difficult to deal with. Instead, you need to keep your cool and continue talking in a calm voice. This may help to put the patient to ease.
You should put yourself in the patient’s shoes. The patient is most likely not being difficult because of a personal matter. Instead, they may feel anxious, or they might feel that they are not getting the attention they need in the medical office. By remaining calm, you have the ability to take control of the situation.
Try to Be as Empathetic as Possible
As we have noted in the previous point, try to imagine yourself in the patient’s situation. Consider what they are going through. Try to be empathetic. Consider the fact that the patient might not feel too comfortable while being in the hospital. They are not close to their loved ones.
Try to be as understanding as possible without taking their bad behavior personally. Make sure they understand that you are aware of their anger or frustration. Assure the patient that you are doing your best to comply with their needs and requests. By demonstrating the fact that you care about the patient and that you have an interest in their needs, you might find that their mood becomes calmer and they at least become a little easier to deal with.
Have a Conversation with the Patient
Sometimes, the best way to deal with a difficult patient is to start a conversation with them. Tell the patient that you are aware of how they feel and are trying to resolve the issues that they are having.
Ask the patient what they need. Sometimes, a simple solution exists that you can use in order to calm the patient and make them easier to deal with. Ask the patient if they have a specific suggestion that may assist in resolving the problem in a way that would satisfy them.
You can also try to engage in an off-topic conversation. This may seem inappropriate, but simply asking the patient how their day was could get their mind off the topic that they are complaining about. If you have been working with the patient for some time and there is a professional relationship, perhaps ask them how another family member is doing. Show that you care about them.
Know That You Need to Have Boundaries in Place
While being caring, compassionate, and understanding is critical when dealing with difficult patients, you do need to have your own boundaries in place. There are more than just that one patient that you need to take care of – and focusing your attention only on the needs of that patient can cause problems with others.
Set limits on how you will be meeting the demands of the patient. When you need to check up on another patient, advise the difficult one that you will do your best to resolve the issues that they are having, but tell them that you will be back to check on them in a certain amount of time. Then, be sure to try and go back to them within the time you told them.
Don’t Let a Difficult Patient Interfere with Your Day
You are dealing with many patients every day. It is important not to let an argument with one patient cause you to feel like the entire day was ruined. If you find yourself upset about things that one of these difficult patients said to you, then take a moment to “time out.” Take a deep breath and let it go.
Consider the fact that the patient might have been angry about something that was out of your control. Accept the fact that the patient acted out of anxiety or pain, or perhaps another reason that didn’t involve you personally. Then let those feelings of anger you might have a go.
Once you have done this, continue with your routine. Take care of each patient. Nursing is not the easiest career choice – and difficult patients are something that you will need to deal with – but that’s just one part of it.
Millions of patients enter healthcare facilities each day. While many of these patients are understanding and able to comply with the office, there are times when a patient can become difficult to deal with. If you find yourself in such a situation, take the tips we shared in this post into account. They are sure to make the process easier.