How Do You Manage Situations With Uncooperative Patients?

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    Doctors Magazine

    How Do You Manage Situations With Uncooperative Patients?

    Dealing with uncooperative patients is a challenge that healthcare professionals from various specialties face. We've gathered insights from five experts, including a Plastic Surgeon and a Clinical Psychologist, to share their experiences. From utilizing an empathetic approach in post-op care to transforming patient attitudes with unbiased support, discover how these seasoned professionals navigate difficult patient interactions.

    • Empathetic Approach to Post-Op Care
    • Corrective Experience for Mental Health Patient
    • Empathy and Information in IVF
    • Art and Music Build Teen Rapport
    • Unbiased Support Transforms Patient Attitude

    Empathetic Approach to Post-Op Care

    Once, I encountered a patient who was very resistant to post-operative care instructions following a cosmetic procedure. Understanding the importance of compliance for optimal recovery, I approached the situation with patience and empathy. I arranged a follow-up appointment and used visual aids to explain the healing process and why each step of the aftercare routine was crucial.

    To make it more relatable, I compared the recovery steps to maintaining a piece of fine art—both require careful attention and respect for the process. By framing the instructions in a way that resonated with his interests, the patient became more cooperative and engaged in his recovery. This approach not only improved his outcome but also strengthened our rapport.

    David Hill, MD
    David Hill, MDPlastic Surgeon & Medical Director, Fulcrum Aesthetics & Surgery

    Corrective Experience for Mental Health Patient

    Working with inpatient populations can be challenging because the level of mental illness is so severe that oftentimes, they are not even aware that they are being 'uncooperative.' I remember working with an older, Black man with schizophrenia who had been in and out of different facilities since his first psychotic break in college. For that reason, he had a considerable amount of trauma around medical care and, more specifically, with certain providers who he felt were untrustworthy.

    He came into—and disrupted—my process group one day, throwing the worksheets on the floor and insisting to the attendees that I was 'just like the rest of those crooks who aren't trying to help but just control y'all.' The group looked at me expectantly to see how I would handle the disruption, and I realized in that moment that I could model a corrective emotional experience for that man and for everyone present.

    I said, 'Wow, that sounds awful to have to deal with crooks who only want to control you. I'm sorry that that has been your experience. Can you tell me more?' To my—and, frankly, everyone else's—surprise, he sat down and regaled the group with not just tales of his hospital experiences but his life overall.

    He was open and transparent and presented completely differently than he had upon entering, and I maintain that it was my willingness to meet him where he was at with kindness and curiosity, rather than as the 'authority' in the dyad, that fostered that change.

    Ang Romulus
    Ang RomulusClinical Psychologist, Create Outcomes

    Empathy and Information in IVF

    In IVF, emotions run high. Once, a patient felt all their embryos wouldn't implant. We listened to their worries, explained the success rates, and offered alternative options. By addressing their fears and providing clear information, they felt empowered. In the next cycle, with open communication, they achieved a pregnancy. Empathy is key in navigating these challenging moments.

    Goral Gandhi
    Goral GandhiEmbryologist, Goral Gandhi-Best Embryologist in Mumbai

    Art and Music Build Teen Rapport

    In my practice, I once worked with a teenage client referred by their parents due to severe anxiety and truancy. The client was initially reluctant to engage in conversations and often responded with hostility or silence. I chose to build rapport through non-traditional means, incorporating art and music, which were areas of interest to them. Gradually, this approach facilitated open communication, and the client began to express their feelings and fears. Together, we developed coping strategies tailored to their unique situation, leading to a noticeable improvement in their attendance and overall well-being.

    Kristie Tse
    Kristie TseFounder & Therapist, Uncover Mental Health Counseling

    Unbiased Support Transforms Patient Attitude

    Handling an uncooperative patient is definitely challenging, but it's not uncommon in our line of work at Choices Women's Clinic. Our goal is to always provide unbiased, informative, and supportive care, regardless of the patient's initial attitude or resistance.

    One notable experience involved a young woman who was visibly distressed and initially combative about receiving any advice. She hadn't planned her pregnancy and was overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty. I took a patient and nonjudgmental approach, allowing her to vent her frustrations. Then, I gently guided her through our services without pushing any specific decision. By offering her an ultrasound and a confidential space to discuss her options—including parenting, adoption, or abortion—she began to see that we were there to support her, not judge her.

    By the end of our consultation, she felt empowered and even thanked us for allowing her the space to make an informed decision. This example underscores the importance of empathy and patience in dealing with uncooperative patients. Providing accurate information and respecting their autonomy can often transform resistance into cooperation.

    Vicky Mathews
    Vicky MathewsOwner, Choices Women’s Clinic