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Dealing with angry patients and family members

Angry patients can evoke fight or flight responses in medical professionals. Inability to diffuse situation in a professional manner can lead to disastrous consequences. Here are few tips to effectively diffuse the situation

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Dealing with angry patients and family members

  1. 1. Dealing with angry patients & family members Dr. Padma Puppala
  2. 2. Anger often is either an expression of emotion derived from the patient’s situation and/or triggered by minor lapse, often unrelated
  3. 3. Long waiting times
  4. 4. Getting caught in an altercation with one patient or a family member can interfere with your effectiveness as a clinician and compromise care of other patients too
  5. 5. Anger Pain Fear & worry Feeling unheard Undiagnosed illness
  6. 6. When any patient appears to be “angry,” the presence of pain must be considered and treated as a matter of urgency
  7. 7. Hospitalization can be an intensely destabilizing experience for both the patient and his or her caregivers ; “Physical, emotional & Financial”
  8. 8. Patient’s sometimes feel their requests are unheard, expectations are not met or they are not informed about their condition, plan of management or risks involved
  9. 9. Calm, professional and empathetic approach is essential for establishing coherent dialogue and diffusing the situation
  10. 10. Anger is contagious It can trigger fight or flight response in you
  11. 11. How we react….. Try to solve the problem Defend yourself or the person who upset them
  12. 12. Universal upset person protocol Dr. Dike Drummond “Works for patients, colleagues, your partner, children and even complete strangers” Regardless of what/who they are upset with, Either verbally upset or visibly upset, but silent
  13. 13. 6 Steps of UUPP You look upset Tell me about it I’m so sorry this is happening What would you like me to help Here is what we can do
  14. 14. Acknowledge the emotion and encourage to speak and vent it out
  15. 15. An angry patient is unlikely to be receptive to your explanation until his grief is fully expressed
  16. 16. The patients' stories need to be heard. Careful listening is just a part of defusing the patient's anger
  17. 17. Active-listening involves repetitions, summaries, validations, and empathetic statements
  18. 18. Our curiosity about what has happened has a therapeutic effect. By staying curious, we also avoid being defensive about ourselves.
  19. 19. By arguing, trying to judge or expressing opinions, a power struggle may ensue making things worse
  20. 20. Avoid being defensive
  21. 21. As clinicians, we usually do not know the details of what has happened, and we often cannot and need not resolve the problems
  22. 22. Whatever the cause of anger may be, empathy can still be used to address the patient's emotions
  23. 23. Unfortunately difficult patients continue to exist. You can’t beat them or throw them out
  24. 24. The term “difficult” is subjective. Differences in expertise and experience account for differences in perception
  25. 25. Summary • Errors in hospitals would continue to happen • Sometimes, due to loopholes in processes • Face it; Don’t run away • Avoid being defensive or blaming people • Acknowledge patient’s emotion, empathize • Establish trust and diffuse situation • Learn from experiences by introspection

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