5 Tips for Defusing Angry Patients


Let’s face it: there are other practitioners in your town that have completed medical school and are trained to diagnose and treat podiatric problems. What makes your practice stand out? At the Institute of Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED) that’s an issue our members grapple with in online forums and at face to face meetings. One of the most outstanding yet least tangible factors in the success of a practice is patient satisfaction. It’s what helps keep patients coming back to you and inspires them to refer you to others. How conflicts and situations where patients are not satisfied are resolved makes a lasting impression.

Below are 5 ways to handle a patient that is angry over a bill, frustrated trying to sort out insurance benefits, annoyed at being kept waiting or in any other tense situation in a winning way.

  1. Speak in a friendly tone of voice. Do not react with anger to anger. Avoid a monotone as this gives the impression that you are aloof or don’t really care.
  2. Greet the patient by name. Instead of looking up from your paperwork and saying, “Yes?” (which is cold and impersonal) smile and say, “Good morning Mr. Jones, how may I help you?”
  3. Really listen to what the patient is saying. Show you are listening by letting the patient completely finish speaking before you say anything. Then, paraphrase what you heard said back to them. Allow them to correct you if you did not get it completely right.
  4. Avoid the “P” word! “That’s our Policy,” Mrs. Smith, is a sure fired way to ratchet up the infuriation level. Rather than quote policy, explain it. “We need to ensure that you receive the best care possible and that others do too,” will sit much better.
  5. When all else fails, try this compassionate question: “What can I do to solve this problem for you Mr. Hanover?” Enlisting the patient’s input on how you can help solve the problem will often result in their realization that a true, one-sided solution might not be realistic.

Are you a practitioner who wants readily accessible information on practice management and improving patient outcomes as well as an opportunity to exchange ideas with your peers? IPED offers these benefits and many more. To learn more, contact us at: 978-296-7634.