The following article was posted on LinkedIn and of course the article’s title caught my attention.
June 4, 2013 3:54 PM by Kimberly Cray
How do you manage difficult patients? Well, the first thought that comes to my mind is yoga and meditation. If you are like me, though, most days there is little to no time for all of that. So a deep breath will have to suffice.
Dealing with difficult patients in the most professional of ways is a common obstacle that we encounter in the medical profession and certainly in aesthetics. By difficult, I am referring to patients who make our jobs a bit harder, might be a bit demanding, may abuse the time allotted for a visit, may have an attitude with staff or may do all of the above.
How often would you say you come across a truly difficult patient? Fortunately, it is not all that often that a patient is truly difficult. But when this is the case, how do you handle the situation and have both parties satisfied with the outcome?
As medical providers, we love questions. We want patients to ask away -- that doesn't make them difficult. We also don't mind lists -- but we may mind lists that turn into scrolls. While you don't want any questions to go unanswered, you may have a patient who abuses the provider's time in which it affects other patients waiting to be seen.
A difficult patient also does not refer simply to a patient who is not happy. Some patients may be happy but will demand different prices or tell providers what they want prescribed. Sometimes it just takes time, eye contact and proper explanation as to why you are recommending what you are. You may not see eye to eye but proper explanation is essential.
Explain risks and benefits properly. Explain options. When this is done a patient is more likely to realize that the provider is looking out for their wellbeing, even if the provider's ideas do not match their own. Make sure clear instructions are given in an attempt to save time later on with numerous phone calls. If we do the job right the first time it may take longer but in the end it is much easier than having to deal with a patient who is not satisfied later.
I wrote the book "The Customer is NEVER Right" because healthcare administrators tell us that conflicts between healthcare workers and customer satisfaction jeopardizes the administration's goal of customer retention. That being the reason healthcare administrators side with patients and take patient complaints at face value over extensively vetted healthcare workers. As part of that idiotology [sic], healthcare administrators implement idiotic ideas that, sadly, undermine those trusted with helping others. As a result, healthcare workers have to compromise their character and integrity, in order to keep their jobs, which results in world-renown medical care falling second place to customer satisfaction.
On that note, I would add that any system where customer service is priority, at any cost, is an ideology that creates an atmosphere where employees become punching bags to acts of violence, just to keep their jobs. In healthcare, that violence has become more brazen, more frequent and more violent, a Silent National Crisis, and sadly, at the hands of those we try to help. Why? Because healthcare administrators have turned a blind eye to the collateral damage of catering to exaggerated unrealistic emotional expectations, entitlements, and the so-called VIP.
Healthcare administrators turning a blind eye can also be blamed for a number of other issues: The skyrocketing cost of healthcare, as demands, not necessity, are being accommodated. Adult and childhood obesity, a topic that cannot be addressed without offending many and the same can be said about those on disability. Because despite the advances in healthcare, technology, and legislation that make work possible for many excluded in the past, our disability numbers are higher than ever. And worst, that to avoid poor customer satisfaction scores or to be labeled, uncaring or lacking compassion, many in healthcare have taken the path of least resistance, or least complained about, that has led to the overabundance of narcotic prescriptions. A disservice responsible for the number one cause of death in 2011, narcotic overdose. Surpassing motor vehicle deaths, which held the shameful position for almost a century. Those listed but a few.
With that said, more impotent conflict resolution, touchy-feely aggression management practices, and/or pandering to patients’ exaggerated unrealistic emotional expectations by bending over, is not the solution. Instead, healthcare administrators need to put medical care first and focus on those responsible for it, healthcare workers. Deflate customer service to be NO MORE than what it is, a byproduct of world-renown medical care and the healthcare workers who provide it. Fire those who object when our actions are not what they what to hear, because ultimately, and what should matter most, our intent is in their best interest regardless if they appreciate it or not. By putting healthcare workers first healthcare administrators will see that everything else will then fall into place, so that we may attend to patients who value, trust and recognize healthcare workers as the good-doers with a genuine desire to help others. My two sense [sic].
Jose Angel Torres, NP