5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Patients

Chances are, sometime in your nursing career, you will have to deal with a difficult patient. It’s just part of the fun of nursing. If you haven’t had to yet, thank your lucky stars, but your time is coming soon. Take this expert advice to help you diffuse these kinds of situations, or, just avoid them altogether!

Don’t Take It Personally

This rule is perhaps the most important rule to remember. It’s easy to think that a mad or difficult patient is upset with you, personally, but that’s almost never the case! Try to remember that this patient is dealing with unfortunate circumstances and that is why they aren’t in the best mood. Continue to do your job to the best of your abilities and try to not let the negativity get to you.

Show That You Care

Sometimes the cause of a patient being extra hard to deal with is because they might feel like no one is listening to them. Try to put aside your frustration and do your best to meet all of their needs. Sometimes being gracious and kind can change their demeanor.  

Stay Calm

This is sometimes hard to do when you become annoyed and irritated but taking your frustration out on the patient with only make it worse! Step out of the room, take some deep breaths and remind yourself of tip number one… and then re enter ready to help.

Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

This may seem irrelevant, but simply being aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are can help you prepare for these difficult interactions! For example, maybe your strength is empathy so play on that. Be sweet and kind and tell them you understand what they are going through is hard, but you are there to help.

Don’t Accept Abuse

Sometimes a patients attitude and demeanor can turn abusive. There is a line between a patient who is abrasive and abusive, so be aware of what the difference is. Nurses never should have to be verbally abused. If they are crossing the line, tell them their behavior is unacceptable and that you will go get your supervisor if necessary.

While we hope that these circumstances are few and far between in your nursing career, it’s always good to be prepared! Don’t let it stop you from enjoying your rewarding nursing career. Good luck out there!

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