How to Handle Irate Patients?

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2 Jul 2016 - General

Dealing with angry and abusive patients is mind blowing. As nurses, we are considered to be like sponges, able to absorb and wash the things that could possibly go wrong. As reflected in the nurses prayer, we're asking for guidance to be patient with our patients all the time. So how can we handle stress with the workload given, with limited time plus the behavior of these angry toxic people? 

(1) Keep calm and listen to the persons concern. There's no use if we get to argue and speak up while they're complaining. We are given two ears and one mouth which means we need to listen more than we speak.

(2) Empathize and recognize their complaints. Think of yourself being in their situation and try to understand. "If I am in their position, how would I feel being treatedd this way? Ma'am I know that you're really upset about the situation. If I were in your position I would feel the same or even more. But  don't worry, I am here to assist you. And would surely get back to you once I have the solution immediately".

(3) Respond with an attitude of being firm at the same time with a genuine touch. Apologize if their is a mistake at your end. "I am sorry that this has caused you so much trouble. "I will take note of this and will make sure that this will never gonna happen again."

(4) Listen again. After they calm down, give the solution to their problem.

As what they say, it is not what we say but it's how we say it. We must be careful with the words that we choose because once said, it can never be undone. Think before you speak think a million times and if you have nothing good to say, better be quiet and listen.

What are your inputs or experiences in handling irate patients?

“Respond with an attitude of being firm at the same time with a genuine touch.” Agree with this the most because it is not just about being nice to the irate and difficult patient. In healthcare, the statement “the customer is always right” does not apply because we are the authority here. At the same time, however, we have to recognize their emotions and we cannot automatically dismiss all of these. We have to be FIRM and ASSERTIVE, but we have to learn how to express proper authority in a ma...
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Hi Kathleen, I would certainly agree to you. Most of the time the folks are the ones who's angry and irate. But we can never blame them perhaps because they will most likely wouldn't complain if they are comfortable and satisfied enough with the services we have provided. Most especially us nurses, we need to face that everything that has gone wrong is being blamed to us. Example, leaking faucet, non cooling airconditioning unit, delayed delivery of food services and even channels of th...
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All of the points mentioned are definitely a must in dealing with the so called "irate patients". But, #4 may not be provided to the patient as soon as possible as the solution could take time (e.g. finding out what is really wrong or giving them a definite diagnosis). For me, it is better to reassure them that you are going to do something about their complaint and say you will get back to them, once a solution or a plan of action has been done. Also, let us remember that most of the...
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Hi Priscilla, thanks for sharing this challenging issues faced by healthcare professionals. I would say the best way to deal with it, is to listen to all their concerns attentively and then talk to them in a professional, calm and empathizing way. Always try our best to understand their agenda, and try to figure out what are they angry or dissatisfied at. Usually people will get angry for a certain reason. For example, if a patient is angry due to a delay in investigation, we need to explain th...
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