Every patient's comfort and satisfaction are paramount. However, the path to achieving these goals isn't always straightforward, as dental professionals may encounter difficult patients along the way. Whether it's due to fear, anxiety, or a myriad of other reasons, addressing the needs of these individuals can be a complex task, that we can help you navigate.

Even if you have a practice with 5-star customer service, you’ll still encounter patients who are deemed difficult—individuals who simply don’t cooperate in some way, shape, or form. Dealing with difficult patients can upset the staff, send negative reverberations throughout the practice, cause stress and frustration, and even lead to a loss of revenue due to their behaviors and the time needed to address them.

Here are 4 steps for effectively dealing with difficult patients:

Maintain Your Composure:

The first step in handling a difficult patient is not to let it bother you. While this may sound easier said than done, it’s essential not to internalize the difficult patient’s behavior or comments. Instead of being shocked or surprised, expect occasional encounters with challenging patients. Try viewing it as a challenge or game to be won – find ways to relieve stress and possibly satisfy the patient.

Seek Understanding:

Be curious enough to try to figure out why the patient is being difficult. Initially, it’s natural to perceive the patient as unfair, ridiculous, or annoying. However, there is usually an underlying reason that triggers the difficult behavior. It could be a minor inconvenience, financial concerns, personal preferences, or discomfort with a team member. Taking a moment to understand the root cause of their behavior can help you find a solution.

Ask for Feedback:

Engage the patient by asking how you can make their experience better. This approach often disarms difficult patients because they may not expect someone to genuinely listen to their concerns. By simply asking what could enhance their appointment’s comfort, convenience, or enjoyment, you demonstrate a willingness to address their needs. This can help move the patient back into rational and logical behavior.

Offer Reasonable Solutions:

Determine if the patient’s request or concern can be reasonably addressed. In some situations, offering a simple solution can alleviate the patient’s dissatisfaction. For instance, a restaurant might offer a free dessert to appease a customer unhappy with service. Similarly, in a dental setting, finding a practical solution, such as scheduling the patient for the first appointment of the day to avoid delays, can resolve their issue. Often, acknowledging the problem and taking steps to rectify it can significantly improve the patient’s attitude.

Dealing with difficult patients can be disruptive and challenging. They can create stress, tension, conflict, financial losses, and disrupt the practice’s daily operations. Following the general guidelines mentioned above can help you manage and satisfy most difficult patients effectively. However, in rare cases, you may need to consider whether it’s in the practice’s best interest to continue serving an extremely challenging patient.

Ultimately, the goal is to equip your team with the tools and principles to handle difficult patients professionally and skillfully, ensuring the best possible experience for both the patient and the practice.

We can help you with dynamic dental solutions and valuable insights to navigate the challenging patient dental market. Your patients deserve the best care possible, and we're here to help you deliver it. Schedule a meeting with us today at 561.926.3969 to learn more or find us on Instagram!

Reference: [https://www.dentistrytoday.com/practice-management-how-to-deal-with-a-difficult-patient/]


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