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Types Of Problem Patients You Might Face As A Doctor

When you’re choosing a career path, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting into it with realistic expectations in mind, rather than the ideal you picture when you imagine that career. You may have sought a career in medicine in order to help people, but as many in the industry will tell you if they’re speaking honestly, the patients can often be one of the more challenging parts of it, as well. As such, here are some of the types of problem patients doctors often have to face, and how they handle them.

problem patients

Those who don’t comply

Perhaps the most common type of problem patient is the one who seems perfectly willing to cooperate and will pay attention to your advice, only to not follow your advice or treatment plans. This can be a great source of stress for doctors, but it’s important to learn to compartmentalize and to know when patients have to be responsible for their own care.

Those who make demands

Occasionally, you will find those who take the attitude of “I’m paying for this treatment, so I’m your boss.” These patients can be exhausting, and a significant source of doctor burnout. They may demand unnecessary tests or treatments, which can create real ethical dilemmas. Typically, it’s best to know the guidelines for your hospital when it comes to deciding whether or not to provide types of care even when you know they’re not necessary.

Those who will sue

Doctors can make mistakes, so patients need a pathway to rectify those mistakes and hold them accountable. However, even if you do nothing wrong, there is a very real chance that, at some point, a patient will sue for malpractice. Having medical malpractice insurance is essential to ensure your financial protection. Otherwise, take meticulous notes on patient care and be careful with your communication to mitigate the risk of being found guilty as best as possible.

Those who are aggressive or abusive

Sometimes, there are genuine risks to your health as a doctor, such as problem patients who are hostile or abusive. Knowing the effective strategies to de-escalate situations is vital but in some cases, you might not be able to convince a patient with good faith alone. Knowing the safety protocols to handle those who are a real threat is vital.

Those who are seeking drugs

There are patients who will, unfortunately, seek prescription medication, whether in order to abuse it themselves or to try and distribute it for profit. Keeping an eye out for the signs of drug-seeking behavior, and knowing your prescribing guidelines can make sure that you’re as safe as possible with who you prescribe to. You can’t always be certain, as people in real pain and real need can be just as desperate for help, so some level of judgment is needed at the moment.

The majority of patients are well-meaning, honest, cooperative, and perfectly pleasant. However, as a doctor, you are going to have to treat problem patients as well, so it’s important to get some expectation of what that involves, and what you can do to protect yourself.