Dealing With Difficult Patients? Try These 6 Tips


No matter how experienced a nurse may be, they can always run into a patient who makes their shift an ordeal. Even on assignments from a nursing staffing agency, difficult patients are just part of the job, and a nurse can’t always sail through handling them. They need strategies to help them respond to patients in strategic ways that make getting through the job easier.


Here are six such strategies. Hopefully, they can help you get through your next shift with a difficult patient without having to secretly add their photo to your dart board.


1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

A lot of times, we can take things personally because, in our minds, we are feeling attacked by irrational behavior.


But putting yourself in the patient’s position can often help you realize that irrational behavior can seem reasonable when you are suffering during a hospital stay. Pain, discomfort, homesickness and isolation from loved ones is enough to make even Mother Theresa crabby, so try and understand where patients are coming from before you begin to feel defensive.


2. Treat Irritability, Finickiness, Similar Behaviors as a Symptom


Try and see if you can fix the underlying cause of troublesome behaviors rather than attempt to correct the behavior itself. Perhaps a short temper means that pain has increased, so you should report the behavior to the treating physician. Maybe the patient complains about their food because sitting in the bed is giving them stomach cramps, so they can have a nursing assistant help them get more walks or trips to the bathroom throughout the day.


3. Don’t Let Bad Behavior Shake Your Focus


“The squeaky wheel gets the most grease,” the saying goes, but sometimes the squeakiest wheels in your ward are not the sickest. In other words, don’t let a demanding or rude patient cause you to give them more attention than patients who legitimately need more care. If you make a mental priority list, you can learn when to say “no” or delegate to someone else rather than letting one patient compromise the care of another.


4. Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms


Pretending your stress doesn’t exist is not a realistic way to manage it, but you can find outlets that give you relief. Give yourself 10 deep breaths in the middle of your shift, or take a second to stretch and check in with your body. When you get home, you can take a hot bath to wash away the tension. Gifting yourself moments like these can help you manage stress, and it can also give you something personal to look forward to, making the day go by easier.


5. Don’t Ignore Abuse

Irritability is one thing, but patients who are abusive create situations where administering quality care can be difficult, if not impossible.


Talk with your supervisor or head of nursing, and ask them where to draw the line with patient behavior. If a patient crosses this line, make sure their actions are documented. Report them to your supervisor, who can take the appropriate action that doesn’t put you in the patient’s crosshairs.


Also, do not hesitate to call security if you feel like you are in immediate danger.


6. Find a Working Environment You Will Love With a Nursing Staffing Agency


While you can never avoid difficult patients entirely, sometimes a change of scenery is needed to reset your stress levels. An assignment from a nursing staffing agency can enable you to find work in a positive environment, helping you give your patients your best performance every day.

Open up new opportunities when you apply for positions on TheraEx Staffing Services today.

BlogRey Rivera