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De-escalating patient anger

Patient care
Dr Nicola Davies looks at how nurses can head off potential confrontations in patient-facing situations

Dealing with angry or frustrated patients is considered an occupational hazard of working in healthcare. In a study examining the determinants of aggression in a hospital setting, 46.7% of aggressive acts were carried out by patients and 64.3% of the recipients of those acts were nurses, especially female nurses.1 This article presents techniques for managing emotional patients and avoiding verbally or physically violent outbursts.

Recognising an aggressive patient

The two major contributors of distress in patients are fear and illness.2 The medical environment creates high levels of stress for both patients and nurses – and when the patient’s fear, vulnerability and illness are added into the mix, the atmosphere is ripe for tensions to soar.

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