It is a challenging time to work in healthcare. Hospital systems are pushed to their limits, healthcare workers are physically and emotionally exhausted and COVID-19 infection rates continue to soar. Adding to the strain is an increasing number of disruptive patients. In fact, an article by MGMA states that 71% of medical practices saw their levels of disruptive patients increase in 2021.
We recognize that physicians and healthcare providers face a variety of challenging patient interactions each day, some of which may be violent. These tips from Nurse.org may help defuse situations with difficult patients:
- Reflect on interactions to identify personal reasons why a moment might be challenging, rather than blaming the patient.
- Acknowledge existing tension, if present.
- Find ways to relieve stress outside of work to stay grounded in clinical interactions.
- Make an effort to understand the patient’s perspective.
- Allow the patient to express their emotional needs.
- Avoid defensive posturing and keep the focus on the patient.
- Channel your empathy.
- Set boundaries to enforce rules, such as when patients may raise their voice or use profanity.
- Be aware of your body language.
- Involve other experts, such as a social worker or chaplain, when needed.
To cope with these issues on a larger institutional level, Harvard Business Review recommends that health systems:
- implement safety training for employees;
- remind individuals to take responsibility for their behavior;
- recognize trauma;
- encourage growth and healing; and
- develop concrete policies.
We applaud New York State healthcare workers for remaining committed to patient health and healing despite the challenges of the past few years. For further COVID-19-related developments and support, please visit MLMIC’s dedicated resources page.