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Defusing the Angry Patient: 25 Tips

Defusing the Angry Patient: 25 Tips

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Laura Hills, DA
Just about every member of the medical practice team will be, at one time or another, on the receiving end of a patient’s anger. That’s because even the calmest and gentlest patients can reach their boiling point when illness or injury threatens their health, mobility, independence, finances, self-esteem, dreams, and plans. Tempers are also likely to flair whenever anyone is frightened, not feeling well, and/or feeling out of control. Unfor tunately, the quick pace of today’s medical practice doesn’t help much, as time for active listening and individual attention may be in less supply than we’d ideally like. This article offers 25 strategies the medical practice employee can use to defuse the angry patient. Among these are eight focus and mindset strategies to use before taking action, five strategies to use to take immediate control, seven early intervention strategies, and five resolution and closure strategies. This article also includes guidance about choosing an appropriate and safe venue within the medical practice for discussions with angry patients. It also describes why, specifically, it is in every medical practice’s self-interest to welcome complaints from its patients, even those who lash out in anger.