Understanding Difficult Patients

What do you do when your patient will not discuss taking life saving medication or will not even consider surgery that may help alleviate their pain. Even if it is simply the Flu Vaccine, it is important that when you know a particular medication is necessary for the betterment of your patient, you take the time to listen.

Many patient’s number one complaint is that doctors don’t have the time for them. Patients want their doctors to hear what they have to say; all their fears and concerns and allow them to feel validated for having those feelings.

Sometimes their fears are based on speculation and hype and are not grounded on factual information. You have the perfect opportunity to listen and address each fear. You may not be able to convince them yet, but you may get them to see why you feel the way you do. Perhaps you can strike a compromise. The one thing you don’t want to do is instill more fear.

Talking to the patient to be sure they completely understand what you just mentioned is important. You may, unwittingly, have said things too fast or used words they don’t understand. Once you clarify your reasoning and appreciate their concerns while offering suggestions and perhaps even options, you may be able to convince the patient to reconsider.

It may take many sessions and lots of conversation to make them comfortable, but this is all part of the job especially if you feel this treatment could save a person’s life.

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