6 Skills That Help Medical Workers Deal with Problematic Patients

Regardless of your job description or position in the healthcare industry, you will have to deal with challenging patients at one point or another. And, unfortunately, that is one of the most significant downsides of working in healthcare.

medical examination of xray images

As a physician, nurse, or anyone else, all patient interactions will differ. And working in the same position may desensitize you to the point where you treat your patients as, well, only patients. You do one thing over and over again, and it gets programmed into your brain. At times, healthcare workers are so indulged in their tasks that they are not mindful of a patient’s mood or behavior. So, how can you deal with complex patients? How do you conduct yourself during such interactions?

In this article, we will elaborate on the skills and ways of handling problematic patients. Keep on reading to know how medical workers can manage and control such patients.

1. Be Empathetic Towards Them

The best and easiest way to diffuse any adverse situation with a patient is through empathy. It is the most comforting way to console someone. First, you have to realize that a hospital or clinic is a place that people usually don’t like to visit. After all, anyone only visits a hospital to receive treatment for a medical issue. Modern clinics and hospitals make their patients’ visits as welcoming as possible through beautiful, unique interior design. Still, people dread the idea of medical procedures and get anxious while in a hospital.

Secondly, patients might act out due to their diagnoses’ severity, denial, grief, depression, or other issues. In these situations, any healthcare worker can show their patients that they care about them by being empathetic. When you are compassionate, you will see issues from other people’s perspectives and learn about their severity. However, many healthcare workers lack essential soft skills and need to work on developing them. Consider enrolling yourself in an online MHA degree program if you want to learn such skills and other patient-handling skills. Through such a degree, you will learn to diffuse any problematic situation with a patient, especially while working as healthcare administrators.

2. Always Keep Calm And Maintain Your Composure

You are a healthcare professional working inside a professional environment, which is a great accomplishment itself. It also means that your patients will look to you for support and advice whenever something terrible happens to them. It might be one reason you choose a healthcare career- to provide support and advice, both medical and emotional.

However, it can also mean that when something terrible happens to any of your patients, they will lash out towards you sometimes. Not every patient will be like the other. Not everyone will be open to your advice or medical expertise. Not to mention, your patients might not be upset at you directly. It is their current mental state that makes them lash out. If this happens, you must always keep your composure and stay calm. Remember, you are the professional that a patient will go to for answers. And you have to answer them the best way you possibly can.

3. Listen To What They Have To Say

Other than being empathetic, listening to your patients is another way to deal with them. It allows them to vent their frustrations. They can disclose their stress when talking to someone willing to listening to them. Interacting with them will let you identify the root causes of their aggressive behavior, and you can then act accordingly.

If your patients want to share something but you might not be available, they will become frustrated and rude. It is wise to let them speak while listening attentively to what they have to say. Patients will be more open and willing to collaborate with their treatment plans if their healthcare providers understand them.

4. Stand Up Against Abuse

It is one thing to tolerate your patients’ anger episodes, but it is another to become a victim of abuse. Although the definition of abuse varies from practitioner to practitioner, whenever a patient is showing abusive behavior, tell them it is unacceptable. As you are your patients’ caregiver, you have to draw a line and ask them to abide by the rules.

If they become aggressive, tell your patients firmly that what they are doing is ethically unacceptable. If they constantly act out, alert your supervisor or call security.

5. Act Professionally No Matter What

The doctor-patient relationship can be mentally draining. Both doctors and patients realize that maintaining boundaries is vital to keeping this relationship healthy. However, that isn’t always the case. Other than lashing out, patients sometimes become abusive toward not just doctors but other patients as well. It is best not to take the matter into your hands in such scenarios but get aggressive patients located separately.

Dealing with such patients is a sensitive matter. If you poorly tackle them, they will leave your clinic or hospital unsatisfied and spread negative opinions about you to their friends and family. But, if you constantly stay professional during this doctor-patient relationship, you’ll avoid such a thing from happening entirely.

6. Know Your Limits And Abilities

As a medical practitioner, you must know your weaknesses and strengths when dealing with problematic patients. In some cases, humor might will work with some patients, while some might not like it.

Always know when to dive in headfirst and deal with a situation and when to back down out, letting someone else deal with it. In your place of practice, there might be other more experienced medical professionals in your workplace who will know how to tackle problematic patients more efficiently. These professionals can be psychologists and nurses who can better deal with such patients. Let them deal with these patients instead.


Dealing with problematic patients will never be an easy task. However, problems tend to escalate quickly if not dealt with in a timely and professional manner. Be professional, and learn to say no whenever your patients demand something out of the ordinary. Moreover, the tips mentioned in this article will prepare you for dealing with problematic patients.

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