How to Deal with Rude Patients in Phlebotomy

Handling difficult patients can feel like an impossible task for a phlebotomist. Oftentimes, you’re one of the first people they’ll see if they’re getting multiple tests done, etc. So, your attitude toward them, as rude as they may be, can really set the tone for their entire experience. It’s all part of the daily challenges of a phlebotomist.

When it comes to handling rude patients in phlebotomy, much of it can be considered an art. There are some patients that doctors and staff will dread seeing because they know that person’s attitude is negative. Other times, perhaps the patient is just nervous, and acting out.

No matter the reason, it’s never easy to work with someone who is degrading you, or your profession. However, part of your job is making sure the patient is comfortable and safe, no matter what. A professional attitude is always required, even if you don’t receive one in return.

You’ll work with a variety of different patients as a certified phlebotomist. Most of them will likely be polite, considerate, and kind. So, how can you better deal with those patients who aren’t openly cooperative?

Different Types of Rude Patients in Phlebotomy

If someone is being rude or disrespectful, it probably won’t take very long for you to notice. Some patients will be difficult when it comes to the care they’re getting. Others may yell, curse, and try to cause a scene.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a patient that’s rude, which can make dealing with them that difficult. It’s important to always be aware of your patient’s attitude, no matter what.

Handling Rude Patients in Phlebotomy

There are several common reasons to consider when it comes to why a patient becomes rude or disruptive. They include things like:

  • The patient doesn’t appreciate their care
  • Mental health conditions
  • They feel that they are not being heard
  • They’ve been waiting a long time

Of course, there are dozens of other possibilities. Everyone’s personality is different. But, when you’re dealing with a difficult patient, understanding why they might feel so strongly in the first place can help you to work with them from the best approach possible.

How to Handle Rude Patients in Phlebotomy

Dealing with difficult patients will likely be a part of your initial phlebotomy training. But, actually having a patient offer you a rude attitude in person can feel like a completely different scenario. It’s important to never lose your professionalism.

Understand that you’re there to complete your job to the best of your ability. So, let’s look at a few tips you can use to not only make working with a rude patient easier, but may be able to help them calm down.

Don’t Take It Personally

When someone is treating you poorly, it’s very easy to feel personally attacked. It’s likely that your patient has either never seen you before. If they have, all they should know about you is your demeanor and sense of professionalism in working with you before.

Try to keep in mind that they don’t hold anything personal against you. If they’re treating you with a negative attitude, it’s usually because of other factors regarding their specific circumstance.

Show Compassion

It’s easy to get caught up in the medical and scientific side of your job. But, it’s important to understand that patients don’t always speak that language. Even if you’re a great phlebotomist, your work can go much farther when you show compassion to your patients. This is especially important if they appear to be nervous, or have questions.

On most occasions, you may be able to calm down a difficult patient just by listening, and showing a little compassion as you work. It can take a tough situation and dial it down significantly, making the experience better for both of you.

It’s also a good idea to show that you understand what the patient is going through. Ask them what’s wrong, and really listen to their answer. When they know they have someone on their side, you can build trust.

Never Be Judgemental

As a phlebotomist, part of your job is to put your own reservations and feelings on hold when dealing with a patient. Most people are very intuitive, and can pick up on if/when they’re being looked down on. You’ll work with a wide variety of people on a daily basis.

Your patients will come from every type of class. Some will be overweight. Some may have drug problems. Treat every patient with the same kindness and respect. In most cases, you’ll get the same in return.

Be Aware of Your Own Safety

On rare occasions, rude patients can turn into disruptive patients. First, do all you can to diffuse the situation. Staying calm and not getting dragged into the conflict is the best thing you can do. Unfortunately, sometimes patients want you to argue back, and your collective nature may make them even angrier.

Always protect yourself and consider your safety, and the safety of other staff members and patients. If a difficult patient gets too out of hand, and turns violent, action must be taken. Security officers are put in place at most medical facilities. They have been trained to properly handle these situations. If necessary, contact your facility’s security department instead of trying to restrain a patient yourself.

What Can You Learn from Patients with Poor Manners?

You may dread every second of working with a rude patient. However, you may be able to use each experience as a learning opportunity. Of course, it’s nicer to work with calm and receptive patients. But, when the next difficult patient ends up in your chair, try to consider what you might be able to take away from the situation.

Perhaps you’ll be able to try a few different calming techniques for patients that will better prepare you for future situations. Maybe you’ll be able to diffuse the situation quickly, and feel a better sense of accomplishment. Instead of simply rolling your eyes at the idea of dealing with rude patients in phlebotomy, consider how you can grow from them.