How to Deal with Difficult Patients


By Holly Beal, RCPhT

Have you ever felt as if you were at your breaking point? Ever felt like you were about to explode due to dealing with difficult patients?

Surprise, you are not alone. We have all felt that way.

There are a few ways you can kick those feels out the door for good and learn how to deal with difficult patients. A rule to always live by while working in the healthcare field is that the patient is always right.

Staying Calm

First and foremost, you must stay calm because this is not about you.

Remember, the patient is always right. The patient does not care, and all they hear is you interrupting them. There is no way around this, ever! So, there is no need to waste your time trying to prove your point.

Let’s be honest no one likes to be interrupted when they are upset. It is rude!

Feeling Heard

The second thing is that the patient must feel heard and just as important as anything else around them.

I have found this to be so beneficial while interacting with a difficult patient. So, how can you do this when a patient shows signs of frustration? Well, it’s simple, give them your undivided attention and make eye contact. Validate the patient by telling them you hear them and understand.

Taking Action

Finally, you must take action. Let the patient know you will take care of the issue. Get the patient's name and number.

Be overly apologetic and ask if you can help with anything else before sending them on their way. By now, the patient should be more relaxed. If you can’t deal with the issue at hand and must pass it to management, that’s fine.

The patient does not need to be a part of this process. You do not want this, trust me! It will make them feel as if you’re not taking them seriously and cause more frustration.

Overall, you should never feel as if you’re at your breaking point due to difficult patients. You are in more control than you realize. And there are always solutions on how to deal with difficult patients in a professional manner. These few tips that I have shared with you will become second nature, and the most difficult patients will become less difficult for you to handle. And making more interactions even more pleasurable than ever before.