Strategies for Dealing with An Angry Patient

One of the great things about being a nurse is that no two days are ever the same. You get to interact with and care for people from all different walks of life with varying personalities.  While this can be extremely gratifying, it can also be difficult at times. Every now and then you’ll have to deal with a patient whose attitude clashes with your own or a patient that is extremely irritate and rude.  When this happens, it’s important to deal with the situation in a professional and respectful manner.  You want to make sure the patient receives the care they need without losing your cool and damaging your reputation or the reputation of your organization. Below are a few tips to help you deal with an angry patient in the most professional manner.

Take a Deep Breath

The biggest mistake you can make as a nurse is to lose your temper and say things that you may regret later.  When an exchange with a patient starts to get heated, finish their care routine, take a few deep breaths and walk away for a moment.  This will give your immediate feelings time to wear off.  Think the situation through, and take a minute to regain your composure.  Once you’ve set aside your emotions, you’ll be more objective and can continue to deal with the patient in a professional manner.

Don’t take it personally

The last place someone wants to be is at the doctor’s office or in the hospital.  Patients are either exhausted from being sick or stressed out from worrying about their medical condition.  They’re anger is a result of the situation, not a reflection of the work you’re doing.  It’s important to put yourself in your patient’s shoes and not take any rude comments or insults personally.

Try to be Sympathetic

When dealing with difficult patients, it’s important to remind yourself that the irritating person you’re dealing with is in fact a human, not just another body you’re caring for.  It’s easy to get so wrapped up in a care plan that you forget the person you’re treating has a life outside the hospital that they’d like to get back to.  They’re not just a bundle of demands, but someone who doesn’t want to be in a hospital bed any more than you do.  Try to cut them some slack and shower them with kindness, even if they’re insulting you.  Tell them how you relate to what they’re feeling and reiterate that you care about them and want to help in any way you can.

Ask Someone Else to Step in

If the patient’s behavior becomes too overwhelming, it’s appropriate to ask another nurse to take over their care.  Sometimes, even after trying to resolve the issue and sympathizing with them, a patient will continue to be rude for no apparent reason. You can’t let your care for other patients suffer because of the emotional burden of one person.  Don’t let your day be ruined by a belligerent patient because you don’t want to burden another nurse. Set aside your pride, ask for help from another nurse or your supervisor, and move on. The fact that a patient is demeaning towards your isn’t a reflection of your skill set.

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