Andrew Wettengel / Monday, July 30, 2018 / Categories: Health


In the healthcare industry, your patients are often the best part of your day.

Until the day they aren’t.

Yes, while many patients are kind, wonderful people and helping them feel better can completely reinvigorate you, there are also patients on the opposite end of the spectrum. Those that are angry, belligerent and sometimes even abusive. And yet you are tasked with treating both groups to the best of your abilities. It’s a challenge at times, so when you come upon your next difficult patient, here are some tips you can apply to navigate the situation.

* Be calm. Yes, your demeanor can be everything sometimes. Being calm allows you to step back for a minute and understand the reason for the patient’s hostility — hint: It’s not you. Some act out because of their fear of doctors, needles, hospitals or any other of a wide array of options. Others are afraid of their diagnosis — real or what they perceive it will be. Whatever the cause, your calm manner will help to quell the situation.

* Show empathy. As hard as it can be sometimes, a little empathy can go a long way with a difficult patient. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes for a moment and try to understand how scary their situation may be to them. Remind yourself that this healthcare world may be foreign to them and ask them if you can help in any way, using a soft, compassionate voice, of course.

* Be conversational, not combative. Some patients will naturally want to argue with someone during their stay, and as the nurse, you’re likely the face they will see most often. Don’t take the bait. This doesn’t mean you must roll over, but you can respond to them in a calm, respectful tone. Keep your attitude professional and they’ll be left in an argument of one.

* Move on. It can be difficult, but remember that even the most difficult patients will eventually leave your care and sometimes that’s the best thing you can hope for. Treat them to the best of your ability and move on. You have plenty of other kind patients needing your attention, so don’t waste another moment worrying about those difficult types. Move on with your day and before you know it those negative experiences will be gone and forgotten.


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