Submitted By James Don….
A patient exhibiting challenging behavior, which might be physical, verbal, or non-verbal, is a significant issue in any healthcare setting. Averting such behavior, and the harm it can cause, is important for healthcare organizations and individuals. Coping with such behaviors involves:
- In the first instance, reducing the risk of challenging behavior occurring
- Reducing the risk associated with imminent unpredictable behavior and its potential escalation
- Minimizing the emotional and physical harm caused by unpredictable patient behaviors.
If you’re preparing to pursue a mental health nurse course, be prepared to cope with unpleasant and difficult patients. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer that can apply to every situation, there are coping mechanisms you can employ to navigate tricky interactions with unpredictable patients.
Tips to prevent and manage unpredictable patients
- Try to identify the underlying cause
A patient’s bad mood can be alleviated by determining the underlying cause of the problem. This is because a patient’s mood may be altered by medical conditions, side effects, or pain resulting from medications that make them more irritable.
Try to find out why a patient may be passive-aggressive, overly critical, or downright mean. For instance, patients may be placed on an alternative treatment plan or given a lower dose if they’re experiencing irritability as a side effect of medication.
- Don’t take it personally
Unpredictable patients could make you think they’re upset with you personally, which is seldom the case. Knowing the ‘nastiness’ isn’t about you is a good start. Patients may not be in the right mood as a result of the unfortunate circumstances they might be dealing with, and the elderly tend to have behavioral changes due to age and declining health conditions. Continue doing your job and don’t let their negativity distract you.
- Stay calm
When faced with an unpredictable patient, it’s easy to become angry, irritated, and annoyed. To avoid the situation from escalating, ease the tension by staying calm, as you’ll only make matters worse if you take your frustration out on the patient.
Avoid hiding your feelings behind fake smiles to prevent you from being more stressed. Instead, take some deep breaths and pause to collect your emotions and calm down outside a patient’s room.
- Pay attention
By just being observant, Nurses may prevent difficult situations before they happen. Be on the lookout for escalating social situations and learn to recognize pathological processes that may cause distress and pain to a patient. It’s possible to diffuse a tense situation before it starts.
- Connect with the patient
Taking time to connect and getting to know a patient shows you care about them as a person and not just any other item on your to-do list. No one wants to be just another patient!
Talk to the patient’s family and get to know the individual through their eyes. Ask questions about their job, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. It becomes easier to tolerate the demands of patients when you view them as individuals. Aside from being more compassionate, getting to know your patient better may make their negative mood disappear altogether!
Dealing with unpredictable patients has never been fun, but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your rewarding nursing career.As a mental health nurse, you’re likely to work with patients from all walks of life, which may result in unexpected situations. To be in a better position of handling yourself confidently, just keep your cool in your nursing career.