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How to Deal with Pushy Patients

How to Deal with Pushy Patients

Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer

Every healthcare professional encounters patients who are short-tempered, belligerent or just plain rude from time to time. But the frequency of these encounters may increase as the stress level rises among patients and providers. Experienced physicians and nurse practitioners offer five tips on keeping your cool when tempers flare:

Give Patients the Benefit of the Doubt

Most patients don’t purposefully cause problems for health professionals. “I try at all costs to avoid labeling patients as being ‘difficult’ or ‘pushy,’” says Brian Dwinnell, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. “Who’s to say it is the patient being difficult and not the physician or at least the system in which the patient has been forced to receive care?” Remember, patient behavior that could be considered difficult is often “born out of intense emotions such as fear, anger and sadness,” he adds.

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Be Up Front and Sincere

Nurse practitioner Linda Roemer, PhD, owner and CEO of Fridley Roemer Health Care Services in Panama City, Florida, tries to nip bad patient behavior in the bud by telling new patients exactly what to expect from her and her office staff. During her first meeting with a new patient, Roemer makes her policies clear on everything from how quickly she returns phone calls to the process of calling in prescriptions.

She is also up front in apologizing to patients who have had long waits. “I tell patients, ‘I’m here now, and you have my full attention,’” she says. If a patient isn’t appeased, Roemer tries to empower the person by giving options. For example, she may suggest that a patient schedule his next appointment to be the first one of the afternoon so he won’t have to wait again.

Next: Put Yourself in the Patient’s Shoes >>

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