Doctors: How to Treat an Angry Patient

It’s not often I aim my blog posts toward doctors and providers, but this follow up post to Hell of the Angry Patient is just that;  a follow up with ideas for doctors who find themselves and their staffs confronted with an angry patient.

Forgive the regurgitation of some of the earlier post, but I want to be sure you understand it…

The point was that patients, or the loved ones of patients, who have suffered at the hand of healthcare through medical errors, failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, or even through their own perception, may be angry, and they may transfer that anger to any other doctor or provider.  Because of the nature of healthcare, patients have no choice but to return to the very system that caused the problems to begin with.  It’s no wonder they are angry!

The post goes on to give patients some ideas for overcoming their anger and even moving on toward forgiveness.

Many providers just don’t get it.  I had that experience myself.  After my misdiagnosis was confirmed, I knew I still had to figure out just what had caused the lump to grow on my torso.  If it wasn’t cancer, then what was it?  So I made an appointment with my dermatologist.  The earliest one I could get was almost two months later…. so by then not only was I still angry at the misdiagnosis experience, but I was frustrated with waiting so long to get some REAL answers.

The dermatologist, Dr. D, is very highly respected and I had been to see her twice previously.  But she was a perfect example of how NOT to work with an angry patient.

Read the rest of this post at its new location:

http://www.trishatorrey.com/2007/08/03/doctors-how-to-treat-an-angry-patient/

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3 Responses to “Doctors: How to Treat an Angry Patient”


  1. 1 Tim Dawes August 3, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks for posting this entry.

    I give your recommendations tremendous weight. The listenting gap between doctors and patients is wide and costly, for both patients and medical groups. There’s a Harvard Study, for example, that finds at the root of medical malpractice, (you can find it by searching on Mello and Hemenway) not medical negligence but lack of communcations skills.

    I train doctors and nurses to listen to patients and show them empathy. There are some resources on my website that may be valuable to you and your readers (although they’re targeted to healthcare staff). I have a free special report — 7 Mistakes Medical Groups Make — which lays out the dollar cost of failing to show empathy to patients. My free mini-ecourse — 7 Steps to Excellent Experiences for Patients of Any Culture — gives the framework for respectful, compassionate communications between patients and staff. And if you’re really interested, I’ve written a book — Healing form the Heart — that’s won a national book award and has been called “an important contribution to the humanization of healthcare”.

    I hope these support you in your worthy mission.

  2. 2 Nemo July 6, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Doctors need to be trained to show empathy? Maybe they should be trained on how to diagnose and treat rather then how to bill and schedule for maximum efficiency. The medical establishment today is a joke, corrupt and inefficient.


  1. 1 MSSPNexus Blog Trackback on August 4, 2007 at 7:21 am
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