Calming an Angry Patient

Practice Management

When you care about the quality of patient care at your practice, angry patients are concerning for a number of reasons. Of course you want to make sure the patient did, in fact receive excellent care, but you are most likely also worried about potential legal action and the reputation of your practice. Learning how to effectively calm upset patients is crucial.

Strategies to use when calming an angry patient

While each patient and every situation is slightly different, follow these tips to convey your concern for the wellbeing of the patient and the desire to resolve the issue.

Be empathetic

Although it can be difficult, attempt to look at the situation from the patient’s point of view. While a patient may seem upset about something such as the length of time spent in the waiting room, perhaps the real issue is nervousness about a test result or upcoming procedure. According to the Ameritech College of Healthcare, understanding the underlying cause of an outburst can allow you to provide better patient care and keep the situation from escalating further.

Pay attention to your communication style

Even if the words you use are kind, saying them in a rushed or forced tone conveys the opposite of care and concern for the patient. Body language like crossed arms, clenched fists, a tense jaw, or hands on the hips can make the patient feel you are also angry and make the situation worse rather than better. Keep your arms at your sides and your muscles and voice as relaxed as possible to allow your message to be heard in a more receptive way.

Avoid ignoring the patient

It can be tempting to simply steer clear of an angry patient and try to get them out of the office as soon as possible. Instead, take the time to discuss things clearly and make sure the patient understands the diagnosis and treatment plan well. An upset patient can often be someone crying out for attention, and any perceived neglect on your part can make an unpleasant situation much worse. 

Remain calm

Possibly the most important thing to remember when working through a situation with an angry patient is to stay calm. As soon as you become defensive, raise your voice, or interrupt the patient, it can erase the patient’s confidence in your care. Speak softly and avoid interrupting the patient at all costs. Continue to treat the patient with respect throughout the entirety of the interaction. 

Follow up

To make sure the patient does not feel abandoned, schedule a follow-up meeting. You can also formulate a plan of action or next steps to take with the patient to establish a clear understanding of future interactions. If the patient is resistant to a diagnosis, here are tips on how to discuss treatment plans

Here to help you prepare

Creating a positive patient experience is paramount for the health and growth of your practice. The team at Doctor Genius knows that while patient complaints are inevitable, you and your staff can be ready to handle difficult patient situations with intentional preparation. Talk to us today to learn more about our Patient Experience Package and practice management tips to help both your practice and patients achieve better results. 

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