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The Best Ways to Deal with a Disappointed Patient

The Best Ways to Deal with a Disappointed Patient

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A lack of communication between physicians and patients often can be the key factor in many malpractice claims. Quite simply, angry and upset patients are more likely to sue doctors for malpractice. If a patient is upset at something you've told them, there are ways to not only can prevent them from suing you, but also keep them in the fold as one of your patients.

We asked our editorial advisory board, comprised of various healthcare experts, for the best ways to deal with a disappointed patient. Here's what they had to say.

(What are some of the ways you deal with a disappointed patient? Share your thoughts below in the comments section or by tweeting us @PhysiciansPract).

Click here to download a PDF of this slideshow.

Click here to download a PDF of this slideshow.
Physicians Practice


Maybe things are different in the mental health field. First there are substantive, justifiable complaints and then there are frivolous complaints that reflect the nature of the patient's disorder more than anything else. I am coming across more and more demanding patients with a clear expectation of entitlement.

If substantive, I take responsibility and apologize if indicated. If frivolous, I challenge the patient about their role, participation, responsibility for the issue. An example is a patient who does not follow up on taking prescribed medication and then continues to offer the initial complaint. Another frequent occurrence are the patients who come for prescriptions when they are actively using either alcohol or other illicit substances. Unfortunately today the patient is not always right and it could be downright dangerous to assume so.

Carol @

presentation is not working

Julio @

1) Have a clear policy on revisions should they be needed
2) Dissatisfaction should be on your consent and discussed with patient prior to surgery
3) Acknowledge your patient's concerns (as opposed to denying assuming that its truly present) and ask them what they need to be satisfied
4) If patient is unreasonable, offer to cover a second opinion (from a friend/ally)
5) If unable to convert patient, consider termination with partial refund/contract that includes muzzling patient

Curtis @

call back quickly, listen to the concerns and acknowledge their complaint. don't over explain things and only fix what can be fixed and do not lay blame on others.

Theresa @

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