Providing the best medical care is at the forefront of every physician’s mind. Regardless of this, your patient may still get very upset or angry.
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Explore This IssueMarch 2011
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There are various reasons why patients might be angry or upset. They may be embarrassed or frightened of their medical condition, or they might be dealing with loss of income and not be sure how to manage medical expenses. Whatever the personal reasons, it is helpful if you can detect an angry patient early and take active steps to defuse or contain the situation before it boils over.
Here are a few tips on dealing with angry patients:
- Be respectful. Everyone has the right to be angry at some point; it is how we respond to anger that makes a difference. Allow the patient to blow off steam, but maintain professionalism and give him or her your undivided attention to avoid making matters worse. Move the discussion to a private area away from other patients if needed.
- Keep your cool. Most people find it hard to stay calm when they are being attacked or accused of something that they did not do, but in the world of customer service, you cannot respond with anger. Stay calm.
- Identify the patient’s concern. Pay attention to what the patient is complaining about and the emphasis that they place in the conversation. This will allow you to identify what you should really be dealing with.
- Listen attentively and don’t interrupt. Listen and wait for the patient to finish what he or she is saying before trying to respond. Interrupting the patient may add fuel to the fire. Wait for a pause and, when the opportunity arises, paraphrase what the patient was saying to ensure you understand the facts as they presented before trying to correct the problem.
- Follow up and follow through. Make sure to communicate with the patient after the situation occurs, letting him or her know that you care or are going to do whatever is in your power to fix the problem if you can. Be sure to follow through on any decision that is made.
Although there are many more tips to dealing with an angry patient, responding quickly and effectively is the key to prevent a situation from escalating. Good customer service will keep patients and maintain loyalty while bad customer service can potentially cost a practice 10 to 20 patients. Patients are more likely to tell others of a bad experience than a good one!
For questions or additional information on this topic or other practice management questions, contact Antanya Chung, CPC, CPC-I, CRHC, CCP, at email@example.com or (404) 633-3777, ext. 818.