Risk Management Tips April 1, 2016

Risk Management Tip – The Upset Patient

Hi I’m Dr. Stu Hoffman, President of ChiroSecure and back again with another risk management tip for you.

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever had an aggressive patient in your office? The person that makes you and everyone else feel uncomfortable or worse frightened.

I’m not just talking about the patient that comes in who can be intimidating, argumentative and is reactive. Usually you can handle that patient. Those patients are just looking for attention and someone to listen to their concerns and complaints. They may be thinking that their symptoms are more serious then they are, and want to make sure they are getting the attention they deserve.

I’m talking about the patient that is scary. The one who is losing it right before your eyes. The one that gets your heart pounding in your chest and has your entire staff afraid they don’t know what is going to happen next.

The safety of your office, your staff, you and other patients in the clinic are always your first concern and how you handle this situation will determine if anyone gets hurt or injured, harassed or horrified by the angry patient.

Whenever confronted with this type of patient, the first thing you need to do is to take a step back. Literally, do not get in this person’s face. Try to asses the situation. Are they Mentally ill? Are they on drugs or intoxicated? Are they looking for drugs, not realizing you do not dispense drugs in your office? Are they in extreme pain? Are they grieving? This situation can escalate quickly so first try to understand the person you are dealing with the best you can.

Should the police be called? If so, whom in the office would make that call? Should other patients be taken out of harm’s way? Every office should have a strategy in place for this type of circumstance.

Lets talk about developing that strategy. Realize developing a strategy of this type can include contacting your local law enforcement agency to help you develop the right strategy.

First, determine what the signal will be that this situation is beginning to unfold. Sit down with the staff and talk about warning signs that a patient is in the office that could cause someone or themselves harm. It could be they are getting very loud in the waiting room or starting to harass other patients or are physically acting out of the ordinary.

Second, assign a role to each office staff person once that alert signal is triggered. Whom will call 911? Whom will evacuate the waiting room if necessary, or will help the person that is in harm’s way.

Third, Once that plan is in place periodically rehearse the plan. Having a plan that is not rehearsed can lead to total chaos if a situation arises.

Fourth, avoid precarious situations. If you know that there is a patient on your schedule that has a tendency to be obnoxious or to make everyone uncomfortable make sure that no one is left in a room alone with that patient.

Fifth, if you are in a room with a patient that you don’t expect to be a problem and they all of a sudden become volatile, calmly explain to the patient that you need to leave for a moment and will be right back and go call for assistance. If you are using an open adjusting environment your first priority is to separate the agitated patient from the rest of the patients and have your staff organize the removal of the other patients from the situation.

Sixth, set clear boundaries. Assure the agitated patient that you want to do all you can to help them but you cannot help them if they continue to be out of control. Explain to them you will have to ask them to leave if they don’t calm down. Always stick with your office plan in these situations.

Lastly, realize you have to go with your gut. If something about a patient begins to make you are or a staff person feel uncomfortable honor that feeling.

Every office, should have a policy in place to handle these situations and the chiropractic office is no exception.

At ChiroSecure we recognize that Risk Management is more than just the premium you pay each year.

So until next time, I’m Dr. Stu Hoffman, Like us on Facebook and make sure you download the ChiroSecure Malpractice App in the App Store and in Google Play.

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