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cannot trust the patient

What if Clinicians and staff cannot trust the patient not to be aggressive?

Uncategorized . 3 minutes read . December 21, 2022

Patient violence against clinicians is increasing worldwide, and Australia is not immune to such incidences. It is time to address these issues. There is a large amount of literature about what makes patients trust their doctors. What isn't studied is that patients have to trust their doctors to do and comply with what they're told.

  1. What if doctors are fearful that they can't trust patients to listen, pay attention, or do what they're being told?
  2. What if the doctor feels that patients are coming in with all kinds of false information or things they pick up on the Internet, even though you try your best to get accurate and complete information about what to do about illnesses?

One particular problem causing distrust is that more and more patients are showing stress and dependence on drugs and alcohol. That doesn't make them less trustworthy per se, but it means when they are intoxicated or withdrawing from drugs, they are desperate to get what they want, even if that can cause harm. In these situations, they demand or threaten the doctor to compromise professionalism.

Another problem is demanding diagnoses such as ADHD, autism or disability when there are no clinical grounds. Often social and financial advantages cause a minority of patients to be in abnormal, sick roles. Some may get angry when clinicians explain the morally and ethically justified clinical explanation. In these circumstances, most clinicians encourage a second opinion.

The clinician with the skills and training to care for patients is in a dilemma in these situations.

  1. Is this person going to be able to contain anger?
  2. Is this person going to be able to handle bad news?
  3. Is this person going to harass me when I tell them that some of the things they believe to be true about what's good for them are false?

When the clinicians feel that this patient might be acting up, could get violent, or is someone they can't trust, it causes a problem in the therapeutic relationship. Trust is essential. It should be a two-way street from the patient to the doctor and the doctor to the patient. The doctor and the staff have to trust the patient for good clinical care.

  • They have to believe that they're safe.
  • They have to believe that the patient is capable of controlling themselves.
  • They have to believe that the patient can listen and hear what they're saying and be happy to follow instructions.

Everybody has to feel secure in the environment in which they're working. Sadly, security has to be a priority if we have a healthcare workforce that feels safe and comfortable dealing with a patient population that is increasingly aggressive and perhaps not as trustworthy.