Not every patient is a delight to deal with. Maybe an appointment went out of line with the patient’s expectations; maybe the patient felt you didn’t give enough time to listen to their problems’ or maybe they are just taking time to handle their health issues. In any case, being a healthcare provider, it’s your responsibility to handle the agitating patient in the best possible manner. Here’re some tips to handle a difficult patient:
1. Let the patient vent: Though this might seem like the worst part about handling a difficult patient, it’s not that bad and it’s really very important. When you let an angry patient vent his or her feelings, pay attention to it. It’ll help you deplete their energy, after which you both can focus on the solution. You may feel compelled to interrupt as they share what transpired. But don’t do it. Even when the patient is wrong. The only time you must interrupt the patient is when he or she is being verbally abusive. Keep making notes as the patient speaks. When they have finished speaking, give a few seconds pause, and respond in an empathetic tone. Allowing the angry patient to vent it all out will reinforce the fact you have listened patiently and will have a full understanding of the matter.
2. Apologize to the patient: No matter what role you played in the patient’s bad experience, an apology will certainly help handle the difficult patient. A sincere, well-delivered apology will help appease an upset patient. The way you draft and deliver your apology will determine how successful it is. Ensure your apology isn’t merely a statement about how you feel, and it involves the patient. An apology that compels the patient to respond will calm them down and give them control. If the patient accepts your apology, you both can move on to a solution. If the patient is still angry, you will need to continue letting them vent anger until they feel better.
3. Work on resolving the matter: Your focus when handling a difficult patient is to resolve the issue and ensure that the patient returns to your practice and recommends your services to family and friends. Even if it was neither you nor your staff’s fault, you need to focus on what the patient wants if you’re handling the issue. Focusing on the solution will give you a chance to gain them back as a loyal patient.