Deal with Disgruntled Patients and Their Families

By Staff Writers of the USA Wellness Café™

Coping with medical and emotional emergencies can tax your own emotional health to the breaking point. Administering care to a patient in a critical situation is certainly tough. But, when you add the personalities, rude comments, and ugly behaviors of patients and their family members into the mix, you can feel like walking off the job.

Keep in mind that people who are upset often have trouble trusting other people. They may have just gotten ripped off by a bad car mechanic or paid for a root canal that didn’t hold up. Coming under your medical guidance make them overly nervous, very confused, or downright afraid.

To help cool the emotions of patients and their families, try these strategies:

  • Explain the process of how things work
    Tell someone, for example, “It will take approximately an hour to know the results of this CT scan.” Or say, “The doctor is conferring with another specialist tomorrow before making a decision to release the patient.” Be sure to let the family know if they have time to go to for a coffee break or if they need to think about staying in the ICU waiting room overnight.
  • Make sure you know their big questions
    Don’t offer answers if you’re not the person to provide them. But do say, "I’ll make a note on the chart to enlist a professional opinion about your questions and concerns."
  • Help them diffuse
    If someone has a difficult personality, take a step back. Ask this person to explain what’s troubling him/her. Do your best to find the right nurse manager or paramedic supervisor who can offer medical advice. Offering to help someone find a minister’s phone number or locate a neighbor to check on their house is sometimes a huge help.