You just can’t please some people


 

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As Receptionists we all at times have “difficult” customers to deal with. It almost comes with the job. It’s how you handle the situation that is most important.

As a Medical Receptionist you have to take into consideration that patients might be difficult due to many different reasons. They could be feeling poorly, worried, anxious, they could have mental issues or they could be worrying about a loved one. Patients are very different to customers in so many different ways and medical Receptionist are always fully aware of this.

But, there is a limit to the rudeness that a Receptionist should expect to take. I witnessed a patient recently approach the reception desk. The receptionist was very pleasant and approached the patient with a smile saying “good morning” and “how can I help you” She certainly didn’t receive a good morning or a smile back, but instead a very angry and aggressive man demanding, yes demanding that she get a prescription done NOW for him for his heart tablets as he had “run out”.

He thrust his repeat prescription at her and told her to get it done. I could see the smile fixed on her face while politely said “let me see what I can do for you”. The Receptionist typed into the computer and explained to the patient that 3 of the 4 items on the repeat slip where not actually due for another 10 days. The patient flailed up  and started shouting at the Receptionist demanding she do the script for his heart tablets. He wanted them NOW.

The receptionist again explained that 3 out of the 4 that he had ticked on the repeat were not due and the computer therefore would not allow her to request them. He started shouting and telling her how useless she was. He continued shouting telling her that it didn’t matter about the “other items” but he needed his heart tablets.

The Receptionist quietly asked the patient which ones where the heart tablets as she explained that she wasn’t medically qualified to know which ones where the heart ones. He then snatched the slip out of her hand whilst stabbing his finger on the slip of paper shouting  “this one – it’s this one”.

The Receptionist then entered something onto the computer and said that she had requested the tablets and the doctor would sign the script electronically later on that morning and advised the patient that he could collect it from the pharmacy later on that afternoon.

You would have expected the patient to have given the Receptionist a “thank you” of some kind. No – that didn’t happen. The Receptionist had gone out of her way to ensure that the patient had not gone without his heart medication, ignoring the fact that the patient had not allowed the usual 48 hours for a repeat to be done and therefore putting his own health at risk and instead of a simple thank you as he turned to leave the surgery he shouted how useless everyone was at the surgery and how it had gone down hill recently.

I wondered to myself what it would have taken for this patient to actually have been happy  as I felt that the Receptionist handled the situation exceptionally well.

I looked at the Receptionist as the patient left the building, she looked deflated, and almost ready to burst into tears.

Yet had she had said one wrong word to this patient, let alone explain that he shouldn’t have left it until he had run out to request his repeat I suspect she would have been hung drawn and quartered. She was in a no win situation.

Another patient came into the surgery and the Receptionist smiled and carried on……….

So, for all you Receptionists that go over and above your call of duty to help difficult patients and keep smiling –  well done.

 

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Handling Difficult Patients #Guest Post #PracticeIndex


I would like to thank Practice Index for letting me share their post on ‘Handling Difficult Patients’. Practice Index is a support site for GP practice managers and surgery staff. Their popular online discussion forum allows you to ask questions and gain advice and guidance on any surgery issues from the community of NHS professionals. They also have a resources library within the forum which contains hundreds of policies and protocols that you can use in your own practice. You can join the Practice Managers’ forum for free by clicking here: http://practiceindex.co.uk/gp/forum/register

Concept of relax with businessman doing yoga

April 28, 2015 by Practice Index in Patients

Handling Difficult Patients

Dealing with difficult patients at the reception desk and in the waiting room is, like it or not, part and parcel of your job as a Practice Manager. It’s your responsibility to demonstrate confident and compassionate handling of difficult patients, displaying techniques your team – especially newer recruits – can learn and gain self-assurance from.

Keep Calm

Aggressive patients are particularly likely to try and bully you into an argument, but your role here is to stay calm and unemotional. An emotional response from you – irritation, laughter or anger – will only fuel their attack and potentially cause a situation to escalate. In nursing as much as in the general practice, sensible steps to take would include the following:

–  Speak softly and abstain from being judgemental
–  Put a little more physical distance between yourself and the patient and avoid intense eye contact which could be seen as  provocative
–  Be in control of the situation without seeming either demanding or overly authoritative
–  Show your intention to rectify the situation rather than reprimanding the patient for their behaviour

Defy Logic

An angry patient won’t respond to logical arguments, so try to resist the temptation to reason with someone who is clearly in a terrible temper. It’s also important in situations like these to not resort to all-out grovelling if the practice is not at fault. Accepting responsibility is irreversible and could do the practice damage, as well as your own reputation. What you can do, however, is apologise for the particular inconvenience your patient is aggrieved by at this moment – and offer what immediate action you can (if any) to rectify the situation. Make a note of all complaints received, formal or informal – this includes patients storming out of hanging up on phone calls.

Rise Above It

Patients can be rude and downright insulting on a bad day, but try to refrain from letting them know what you think of them or how they’ve made you feel. Stay professionally detached and see this objectivity as your ‘protection zone’ from hurt. Ignore their rudeness and you may find that, with no visible impact, their insults start to die down. Equally, treating an angry adult like the adult they are – despite the toddlerish tantrum they’re throwing – should encourage them to gently return to adult form if you’re consistent enough with it. Patronising, belittling treatment will only inflame that childish rage.

We’ve all come up against it in our time and this just scratches the surface in coping tools for difficult patients. Why not share your best advice for diffusing tempers and managing quarrelsome individuals in the waiting room?