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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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  • Bb_nurse_max50

    jenlasti

    about 6 years ago

    16 comments

    Using the right techniques does help to deal with"pushy" patients, especially when you find the root of where their feelings come from. Sometimes the family/friends can be very "pushy" and mean, that to me is hard to deal with.

  • Steph_s_007_max50

    leswooley

    about 6 years ago

    10 comments

    I work in an OB department, who can be more crabbier than a pregnant woman having labor pains?! We tend to let them express their feelings and not take any of it seriously. After delivery, the patients are always apologizing for how they have behaved. We see people who are in need of our assistance and are not usually feeling very well. It is our job to look past that and deal with the matters at hand! This is why we love our job, we are helping people!!!!!!

  • Lisa_and_nathan_max50

    lisapat63

    about 6 years ago

    18 comments

    I have been pretty lucky and have been able to understood a patient that is being mean, on the other hand there are many families that use the excuse "stressed Out" to be mean to nurses, I will say I find that an intolerable excuse for family or others to be cruel. I often wonder if family may have dementia/psychological issues, and anyone has an idea of how to deal with them?

  • Hpim0013_max50

    reclements

    about 6 years ago

    26 comments

    The "Be up front and sincere" section is particularly helpful, the rest of the article was quite good as well. I have found that if I give patients a heads up about what to expect, as well as a quick explanation of what I am doing and why, is preventative. There will always be patients who ARE mean, maybe even cruel. I've found that taking the high road is the best, and it is o.k. to tell them to not abuse you. Cruelty never acceptable, and "being sick" is not a justification for such behavior. Dementia is another story altogether...

    heart4kids, I think that you will be a great nurse. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive; I am the same way. Over time you will find that there are some things which just do not bother you, but it is important to identify what is most difficult for you before you become a nurse. If you have an idea of what those situations are, then you can plan for them. I think your skin may be thicker than you think if you survived McDonalds!

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    aabryan

    about 6 years ago

    24 comments

    Great advice! I've encountered patients that are consistently nasty and non-compliant. I truly believe that listening and empathizing with your patients goes a very far way. However, when patients exhibit extreme behaviors, it may cause for dismissal of care. If the patients interest are not met, then it impinges on quality care.

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    MsKlassy2008

    about 6 years ago

    140 comments

    This article was very sufficient because dealing with pushy patients is kind of hard sometimes......

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    chrehovcik

    about 6 years ago

    24 comments

    I need help with pushy family members of patients

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    spitfire32708

    about 6 years ago

    6 comments

    I need an article on How to deal with Pushy Doctors!

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    Account Removed

    about 6 years ago

    this article is comforting for both the pt and care giver but it's sometime easier said than done...

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    Angie_ri78

    about 6 years ago

    92 comments

    Sometimes these patients/residents just want someone to vent on. They are most likely upset about their situation and what better person to dump on than the Rn or Cna! I think being patient and not taking it personal are the best solutions for a crabby patient. The patients were once able to take care of themselves and now they are dependant on another to do simple ADL's. What gets my goat is seeing staff blow off a patient and talk to them like a child or call them 'hon" or sweetie. Sometimes I don't blame the patient for being crabby

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    Account Removed

    about 6 years ago

    we've all had these kinds of patients or residents. I currently work as an STNA and every now and then we get one that you just can't please no matter what! The worst thing would be that they would go to the DON or the Administrator and complain about how inept you are... a few have even gotten people fired. Some are just never pleased, however I have found out that most are just anxious for some reason, lonely, or just afraid. I have been sworn at, hit, bit, kicked, punched, peed and pooped on when someone was upset with me. I just consider it a true test of my personal strength and manage through it. When I get home, just take a nice hot bath and forget about it.

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    hcope

    about 6 years ago

    12 comments

    I used to feel this way, still do to an extent. But I got a taste of this as an STNA. One patient in particular was rude to everone, very demanding, and would name call everytime he pleased. On a busy hall with the most difficult patients, he would demand someone to be in his room to cater to him almost constantly. The minute you thought you did everything possible for him and you get to the door, he would think of ten more things. It got to be whenever you were called in there you were gone for 2 hours. But he never got to me, I knew he was lonely. I just told him that when I got my work caught up, I'd be in there to chat, it worked wonders.

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    heart4kids

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    Thank you so much for this article. This is what I fear the most as I begin nursing school. I want to help people with all my heart, but I know I have "thin skin" when it comes to situations like these. I don't totally shut down, but my feelings are hurt very easily. (I'm reminded of my days as a cashier at McDonalds!) Sometimes it makes me question if I'm really cut out to become a nurse. Did anyone else feel this way before becoming a nurse? Thank you for the tips, I will try to remember them on difficult days. :)

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