As nurses, we want to make sure that our patients get the best care and support as possible. Despite our best efforts, misunderstandings will happen from time to time and sometimes we will come across unhappy patients in our workplace. As much as we would prefer to avoid conflict, we need to acknowledge that sometimes it does happens. Therefore, it’s essential that we know how to effectively deal with unhappy patients.
#1: Remain calm
It’s important to remain calm and reasonable when dealing with irate patients. There is nothing to be gained from raising your voice or acting in a similar manner; it will only make the situation worse. Although the patient may say things that are emotionally charged – don’t take it personally or to heart. Stay calm, maintain a neutral tone, keep your composure and have a reasonable, productive discussion with them.
#2: Listen and communicate
Listening carefully to your patient can help to defuse a bad situation. Give your patient the chance to vent and listen attentively to them. This will help you develop a clear understanding of their situation and the position they are in, as well as help you to grasp a realistic view of what you can do to help meet their needs.
Effective communication is the key to dealing with a confrontation or an unhappy patient. When we talk about communication, we are talking about both verbal and nonverbal communication – they are both equally as important. Body language is critical when dealing with an unhappy patient. So make sure that you never stand there with your arms crossed or rolling your eyes – this can make a situation worse.
#3: Show empathy
Show that you acknowledge how your patient is feeling and that you are willing to resolve the situation. Express to the patient that you understand that they may feel frustrated, frightened or unhappy and show that you respect this and want to help them and their needs.
#4: Find a solution
Most patients are just looking for acknowledgement. If you are at fault, accept responsibility for the mistake and fix the problem. If you show a willingness to resolve a conflict, this can help alleviate the tension. Come together with the patient to find an adequate solution to the problem, for both parties.
What are your best tips for dealing with unhappy patients?