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Better Ways to Handle Negative Interactions with Your Patients

Published: May 16, 2018  | Updated: February 20, 2019

Learn how to manage challenging situations in your interactions with patients.

If you are like most physicians, you probably have experienced your fair share of negative interactions with patients. Maybe there was a misunderstanding between you and your patient. Or, perhaps they were already in a bad mood when they arrived at your office.

Whatever the reason, now your patient is upset and unhappy with the consultation. So, what can you do to make communication more comfortable and more effective? In this article, we’ll talk about some things that can lead to adverse interactions with patients and how to improve the situation.

There are many reasons why interactions with a patient can turn sour. Sometimes the patient doesn’t feel listened to, or they don’t agree with a diagnosis. Other times, the physician is overworked, which might affect their empathy skills. The patient’s experience at the clinic might also lead to a negative interaction. Long wait times and inadequate documentation systems can cause a patient to feel frustrated.

What are the implications of negative interactions between patients and doctors? Negative interactions can lead a patient to feel dissatisfied with their medical care. They might feel anxious, concerned or frustrated. It could also lead to a lack of trust in the doctor-patient relationship.

Negative interactions not only affect patients but they also affect the physician too. Negative patient interactions can lead to a dislike of a patient, avoiding the patient or feelings of stress or anxiety.

So, how can the problem be fixed? The best way to deal with challenging patient interactions is to try and prevent them in the first place. If it is not possible to avoid a negative interaction, then you should deal with the problematic situation using effective communication, active listening and problem-solving.

Here are some tips to help you deal with negative patient interactions.

• Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal communication — Both are equally important. Things, like staring at a computer screen instead of making eye contact with the patient, can lead to a negative interaction. So, think about what your gestures, body posture and eye contact all communicate to your patients. Are you sending the right message non-verbally as well as verbally?

• Do not leave out significant others — It is essential to consider the role of the patients loved ones or significant others during the consultation. Whether that person is a friend, family member or spouse, you should enlist their support and include them in the patient’s treatment planning.

• Plan your communication — This is very helpful especially when delivering bad or negative information. Take the time to structure your thoughts and consider how to give the news to that particular patient. Try to think about their feelings and how you might best help them as their healthcare provider.

• Provide ways for your patient to access information and support — Ensure that they have a good understanding of their diagnosis and treatment recommendations. When discussing information with patients, use simple language. Avoid medical jargon.

• Learn how Intiva Health can help you automate many of your daily tasks. Our career automation solutions for providers can help your practice thrive and leave you with more mental energy and time to focus on your interactions with patients.

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