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How to Deal with Pushy Patients

How to Deal with Pushy Patients

Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer

Put Yourself in the Patient’s Shoes

Patients generally aren’t angry at the healthcare provider, but at their situation, says John Song, MD, assistant professor of head and neck oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. Try to get to the root of the patient’s problem through open-ended inquiry. You may discover the patient has unrealistic expectations or is frustrated by insurance limitations or high copayments.

Roemer agrees. “Patients are usually pushy because they have a reason to be,” she says. Simply recognizing and validating your patients’ frustrations and concerns may improve the therapeutic relationship.

Maintain a Professional Demeanor

If you feel a situation is escalating out of control, take a time out, Song says. He recommends telling the patient, “I understand this is very upsetting to you, and I empathize with what you are feeling.” Then leave the room to give the patient time to absorb what is happening.

Don’t Let It Ruin Your Day

Family nurse practitioner Debra Bergstrom, founder of Neighborhood Family Practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, doesn’t let irate patients get under her skin. “Our philosophy is that we’re not going to let it get to us,” she says. “We try to identify the patient’s real problem. Maybe they’re afraid we won’t take them seriously, are anxious about money or were treated poorly elsewhere.”

According to Bergstrom, in a service business, “you may as well shut down” if you are bothered by every difficult encounter.

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