How to Deal with Difficult Patients?

Table of Contents
Importance of Mental Health in Nursing

Nurses are noble professionals who care for several patients in a day. Most patients appreciate the loving care they receive but, not all patients are satisfied and happy. Some are really difficult to deal with and often test the nurse’s compassion and patience. Verbal and physical abuse from patients is unfortunately a reality in today’s hospitals and facilities.

Knowing how to prevent, avoid, handle and document these situations is an important part of the nursing profession. However, doing this in the most effective ways can be tricky. Let’s start by understanding difficult patients.

Difficult to handle patients can be divided into three categories:

The Demander

These patients are aggressive and often take a in-your-face-approach. They are not open to listening and at times turn rude and violent. With such patients, having an empathetic approach works best. Let them know that you care and will take care of their medication and treatment in the best possible way.

The Help Rejecter

These type of patients are never happy with the care provided and are ready with new set of demands every day. However, dealing with such patients can often leave you frustrated. To tackle them, it is important to listen to their demands patiently and provide a solution that is acceptable to them as well as you.

The Non-Compliant

The destructive, non-complaint type of patients’ fall under this category. Many non-complaint patients are victim of depression or underlying anxiety. To deal with such patients, you need to be polite and strict at the same time. Give them, regular briefings, follow-up appointments and in some cases, you may even need to give them written instructions.

Treat your patients just like the way you want your relatives and yourself to be treated – with love and respect. Here are some common tactics that can help you deal with such patients effectively:

Strategies to tackle with difficult patients:

  • Let the patients pour out their anger.
  • Acknowledge and apologize for long waits or disruptions in their care.
  • Take the approach ‘I can realize you are really furious about this’, but you will be fine soon.
  • Communicate clearly with the patient and make them understand that you are genuinely on their side and happy to work with them handle the illness.
  • During the interaction with an angry patient, stay calm, use a neutral pitch of voice, follow normal body posture, and do not become offensive.
  • Avoid jargon, when sharing the data, use simple, non-technical words and repeat important points that the patient can understand easily.

Despite many rewards of the nursing profession, difficult patients will always be a part of it and the way you deal with such difficult patients is something that will make you a better nurse with real life experience.

Finally, to understand and deal with difficult patients, nurses should take specialized skills training in order to refine their skills in managing such difficult patients. The more experienced the nurse, the better she will be able to recognize the greater heterogeneity of behaviors in the patients.

If you are a nurse and want to make a career abroad, INSCOL is your best bet. INSCOL in collaboration with leading Universities/Colleges in Canada/UK/USA/AUS/NZ offers a wide range of nursing programs for international nurses in Emergency Care, Critical Care, Palliative Care, Coronary Care, Acute Complex Care, Mental Health, Leadership & Management, Gerontology & Chronic Illness, Healthcare & Rehabilitation and BSc/MSc Nursing.


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