Dealing with patients who are angry

  1. I deal with angry patient regularly. Any problem, they come in or call to complain, they get sent to the nurse to talk to them, no matter what the problem is. Pharmacy hasn't filled your script? Yeah, totally my fault. Your other doctor we referred you to won't do whatever you want them to? Totally me again. You can't afford your medicine (but someone drive a new nice car and have money for smokes and an iphone, hmph), once again, totally my fault. Haven't been seen in a year and want meds now? No appointments available fast enough? I am tired of getting screamed at and treated like garbage by patients. I try to appease them and be careful with words but I'm afraid one of these days I might lose it on one of the especially nasty ones. 99% of the patients aren't a problem but these angry jerks who want to take out every frustration on me are horrible. Anyone have any advice?
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    About JZ_RN

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 597; Likes: 1,291
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Oncology


  3. by   SCSTxRN
    I feel compelled to prelude this with the fact that I'm a psych nurse.

    Turn your ears down to 10% (in case they say chest pain), your voice down to 50% (hard to yell if you're having to listen hard to the other person), and refer what you can.

    Appointment availability - I'm so sorry to hear about this, let me refer you to our office manager.
    Pharmacy not filled - It is frustrating when pharmacy doesn't check their computer orders - I can print out the computer scrip for you to pick up
    Meds now - I'm sorry but you have to be evaluated by a doctor before you can have a refill on that medication, we have to keep you safe you know. I know we don't have any appointments available, would you like the number to the nearest urgent care clinic?
    Referring doctor not cooperating - Perhaps your insurance has thrown a glitch in the system. You might try calling the number on the back of your insurance card for more information.

    Smile while you say it, say thank you, and have a nice day, and hang up.
  4. by   enchantmentdis
    These types of patients are the ones who will remove you of a perfectly decent job if you are not careful with them. And the ones who smile and SEEM agreeable and competent or/compliant are the worst of all, for they use stealth to get a nurse fired. In other words no patient or family is safe unless they are dead or comatose. In this economy pretend that not a single thing ruffles your feathers.
  5. by   JZ_RN
    *preface this with, I love my job, love 99% of the patients, and love to help others, however....

    If they ask for the manager, that's me. It's frustrating. (I have no authority over staff but have to deal with all patient relations, for no extra money than anyone else) Most of the scripts they whine about are narcs, and I can't reprint, and they also do not allow me to print a script if it's been faxed, only an MD can. And the pharmacy is sometimes inhouse and slower than crap. I have no control over it. The patients can't go to urgent care (that might cost them money, omg!) and most have no insurance, but think they get to be choosers about everything, if you catch my drift. I just feel like I'm a punching bag. I try to stay calm but when someone is personally hateful, nasty, and hurtful to me, I just want to scream at them that they are nasty, rude, trash not worthy to lick my boots! (*see preface please before you say I am a terrible nurse and should find a new job or blah blah blah I'm only human and don't like getting treated like crap)
  6. by   gardenpartyy
    The way I deal with angry patients depends on why they are angry. If it is something that -I- did, I will take responsibility for it, but usually it is not my fault. Sometimes, it's other members of the staff, as our front desk people can seem very rude. The main thing in office that causes an uproar with patients, is billing. If they're whining over a 20$ copay as they are texting on their Iphone, I will nicely blow them off. If it is something that truly warrants anger, I will do whatever I can.

    If the pharmacy screwed up, as long as they are not being snotty to me, I try to see if there is anything I can do to help. If there isn't, I will just tell them to call their pharmacy.

    If it is their insurance, I tell them to call their insurance. No matter what. I am not dealing with insurance companies unless I have to.

    If it is another doctor, I will not get in the middle of it. I'll tell them that we can attempt to see if their insurance company will pay for a second opinion. Most of the specialists in our town aren't worth a :expletive:.

    The clinic I work in is HUGE so when people become belligerent over something and refuse to reason, our doctors will discharge them from their practice so fast, their heads will spin. We try to keep patients happy but there are some people that are impossible to please.

    Bottom line, I deal with angry people every day, if I can't help them, I will calmly but assertively tell them that and tell them who they need to speak with.