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Almost every physician, at one time or another, has been the recipient of an angry outburst.
Almost every physician, at one time or another, has been the recipient of an angry outburst. The quick pace of today’s medical practice isn’t usually conducive to active listening and personal attention to patients. But it is important to step back and think about why your patients may be angry and what you can do to resolve the problem at the time it occurs.
An angry patient may be scared or embarrassed about having to visit a doctor in the first place. Or, they could be angry at someone or something completely unrelated to their health. Sometimes it is the processes in your office that trigger their ire: An overlong wait time, a rude receptionist, or even a harried physician can become the target of their frustrations. Whatever the reason, it is key to recognize their anger, acknowledge it, and if possible, resolve the problem.
Here are several strategies for dealing compassionately and effectively with your angry patients:
When considered together, these strategies should help address most of the “angry patient” scenarios you might encounter. The keys to success are recognition of patient anger, not taking it personally, and diffusing anger in a positive manner.
Owen Dahl, FACHE, CHBC, is a nationally recognized medical practice management consultant with over 26 years of experience in consulting for and managing medical practices and author of “Think Business! Medical Practice Quality, Efficiency, Profits” and “The Medical Practice Disaster Planning Workbook.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281 367 3364.