4 Ways to Dealing with Angry Patients at your Practice

Dealing With Angry Patients at Your Practice

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Dealing With Angry Patients at Your Practice, According to one study, upwards of fifteen percent of patient encounters are considered difficult. For that reason, it’s incredibly important that a staff protocol be in place to manage patients.

When your patients take their frustrations out on you it is very difficult to deal with them. When a patient is reaching the boiling point, it is important that you recognize the signs early and attempt to defuse the situation. With luck, you may never need advice about dealing with angry patients, but it’s much better to be prepared in advance. 

When you sense that a patient is becoming agitated, here’s how you can help them to regain their cool. 

Be Ready for Explosion

Watch carefully early for signals of discontent or distress. If you see the signs of pressure building up , it’s usually easier to cope up with the situation early than to wait for an explosion. Even smaller hints may be early warning flags and deserve extra attention.

If it appears the temperature is rising and the patient’s voice is going up, stay calm and try to keep your mind cool. This is one of the most important recommendations to keep in mind:. It is essential to resist the urge to become defensive when being confronted by a patient.

Instead of raising your voice or speaking over the patient, allow them to finish what they have to say. Concentrate on breathing evenly and listening carefully while they are speaking. Ask a couple of clarifying questions to demonstrate that you have heard their concerns and are listening. It may take a couple of opportunities for the patient to exhaust their frustration. Once they have fully aired their concerns, respond to them in a calm, soft tone of voice. This is naturally disarming and will make the patient feel heard.

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Show Empathy and Compassion

Try to understand the patient’s frustration by putting yourself in their place. It will allow you to have clear idea of where your patient’s frustration is coming from. It will also help you resolve the complaint quickly and efficiently when dealing with angry patients. 

Show some empathy and compassion by acknowledging feelings and being compassionate to patient stressors, dilemmas, or grievances.  Give patients the space they need to express their feelings in a productive way. Having this information may help with creating a treatment plan. Validating patient experiences is a great step toward building a trusting, positive relationship. Oftentimes, the root causes of anger in patients are anxiety, stress, or pain.

Nobody is justified in creating problems for health providers. But if you avoid the issue it will make matters worse. The longer a person is troubled by an issue, the greater the anger or upset. And, in addition to the initial problem, they feel ignored or neglected. Jump in early before the fire spreads.

Body Language

Body language goes a long way when dealing with angry patients. How you carry yourself, especially in difficult situations, is just as important as what you say. Even if your words are soothing and calm, your body language can give you away if you are feeling irritated or defensive. Crossing your arms, standing with your hands on your hips, or clenching your fists/jaw can signal to the patient that you are angry too, even if your words suggest otherwise. Neutral body language techniques depend on the situation. Lean slightly in towards a seated patient when you are both seated. Stand upright and tall vs. leaning in or shrinking away if you are standing. Keep an appropriate conversational distance as too close or too far can be overly aggressive or defensive.Mirror their body language, once they have calmed. Experts say eye contact about 60% of the time is the right balance as again, too much or too little can be triggering.

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Key Phrases

Start with, “I’m sorry.” These are the two most disarming words in any personal encounter. They immediately let unhappy people know they have your attention. The actual problem resolution is still to come but simply saying the words opens the door to a positive conversation.

“Our common goal is for you to be healthy and comfortable.” When you focus on reinforcing common needs, you position yourself as fighting for the patient on behalf of their objectives.

“What would make this better for you?” Asking as much as telling can assist a patient in aligning to their needs. Demonstrating that you are focused on their situation and making it better is why they are seeking professional help.

 “ I know this is difficult and in situations like this, _______ usually helps.” You are an expert here to help. Reassure the person that you can help find an answer to the problem or resolve the issue. Position yourself as an experienced ally who has seen their situation before and has a variety of solutions.

Listen for understanding and communicate genuine concern. It may or may not be possible to resolve their issue on the spot, but it is disarming to actively listen to the reasons for their upset. Ask questions and restate the problem or concern to show your understanding and awareness.

Dealing With Angry Patients at Your Practice

End the Conversation on a Positive Note

Most angry patients will eventually lose steam, but a persistent few could carry on for hours if you let them. Try to bring the conversation to a close by giving specific choices for next steps. You might want to suggest options for what could be done to resolve the patient’s complaint. Don’t forget to summarize the next steps you will take so the patient knows you are serious about addressing his or her concern.

See also  Real-Time Communication is Vital in Hospice Care

Dealing With Angry Patients at Your Practice, Although anger is high on the list of unpleasant emotions to deal with, it can usually be defused and managed with a bit of finesse, preparation, and experience. You can apply most of these solutions not only during physical visits to healthcare providers. Empathy and compassion, can also be shown through virtual interactions such as using the  Most Secure Messaging App (Hucu.ai) and all of them can be practiced via Secure Video Conference In fact, body language can still be incredibly impactful during a Secure video Conference. Often, aAs a healthcare provider, you are able to manage an unhappy patient just as effectively over the phone, via text, or during a Tele-health appointment as you are in person.

There are going to be unhappy patients. What’s more important is how you manage their care. Dealing with difficult patients can be stressful, but keeping these recommendations in mind will help determine a protocol to work off of.

Why you need to listen to angry patients

Bill Gates may not have originated this idea, but it is a spot-on business lesson. He said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Or, from another point of view, “Your best teacher is your last mistake. You drive real service improvement from learning from the complaints you receive.”

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