14 Ways Nurses Can Cope with Patient Hostility

Do you know those days when it feels like everything and everyone is against you? Well, Nurses often experience those kinds of days at work.

From aggressive and hostile patients to coworkers who appear to do everything incorrectly, it may seem like you’re caught in a never-ending cycle of worry. But, don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas on how to deal with patient aggression.

As in any other sector that works with the general public, dealing with complex individuals is just a part of nursing. You may encounter all sorts of responses, including:

  • Defensiveness
  • Fear
  • Demanding nature
  • Rage
  • Hysteria

And that’s just the patients, not to mention the families you’ll have to deal with and manage around.

Adding in pharmaceuticals or illnesses that might induce drowsiness, confusion, or agitation worsens matters.

It’s a whole new ballgame to providing the most outstanding care, professionalism, and compassion. However, there are techniques for dealing with inflexible, irritated, unpleasant, or non-cooperative patients.

1.    Advanced Training:

Some nurses seek more advanced training to deal with complex patients. It can include anything from assertiveness and anger management courses to studying how to communicate with those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

There are also specific programs dedicated to de-escalation tactics in emergency circumstances.

Registered nurses who want to advance their careers can register for an RN to MSN degree program that focuses on developing skills and methods for dealing with difficult people.

2.    What Causes Hostility in Patients:

There are many reasons why a patient might become hostile. Some may feel frustrated or overwhelmed by their illness, while others may be in pain or feeling scared and alone. Certain medications can also cause patients to become irritable and angry.

Often patients feel like they aren’t the focus of attention or being ignored. It can lead to patients feeling angry and frustrated. They may take out their anger on the nurses caring for them.

Certain environmental factors may lead to a patient feeling hostile. For example, waiting for long periods before being seen by a nurse or doctor can be frustrating and upsetting.

In some cases, patients feel like they are just another number in the hospital, and their concerns are not heard. This type of attitude can lead to frustration and anger.

3.    Communication:

One of the essential techniques for dealing with hostile patients is communicating effectively with them. It includes everything from how nurses talk to patients and listen to what patients have to say.

Also, how a patient is communicated can make or break their experience at a medical facility, whether it’s positive or negative. Patients who feel as if they are not being listened to by their caretakers may act out in frustration.

The key is for nurses and other health professionals working around these individuals to be patient with them and listen to their complaints.

Having an open dialog between nurse-patient relationships can also help improve trust and confidence in these challenging situations for both parties involved.

A hostile patient may become more difficult if they do not feel that you are listening to their concerns or taking the time for them when it comes down to communication skills.

4.    Know Your Limits:

It’s imperative to be honest with oneself about one’s limits. Not every nurse is trained to deal with hostile patients, and that’s okay! If you feel overwhelmed or unsafe, it’s time to ask for help.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a colleague or supervisor; they want you to feel safe and comfortable in your work environment.

5.    Create a Safe Space:

It can be helpful for nurses to create a safe space for themselves. It could mean having certain items in your work area that make you feel comfortable or listening to calming music. It’s mandatory to find what works best for you and stick to it!

6.    Take Time out for Yourself:

Nurses are some of the busiest individuals we know, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in everything going on around you. However, you must take time for yourself every day.

It could mean taking a walk outside, reading a book, or being alone. Prioritizing yourself and being mindful of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being is extremely important!

7.    Stay Connected:

The best approach to deal with patient animosity is to stay connected to the people around you. It could be your coworkers, friends, or family members.

Make time in your day to socialize with others and spend quality time together. Asking for help when you have a difficult patient is also essential!

8.    Stay Calm:

It can be elementary to let the hostility of patients get to us as nurses, but you must remain calm no matter what situation arises. It may not feel like it at times; however, remaining calm will allow us to handle hostile problems throughout your shift.

9.    Document Incidents:

Nurses should always document incidents involving patient violence against staff or other patients for proper follow-up by management teams within each facility where these incidents occur.

It will serve as a record that the violent incident occurred in which it may be vital to legal action later against the patient or their family!

It is also essential for nurses to inform management of any verbal threats patients make towards them. It is especially true when these incidents occur after duty hours since many healthcare workers have been injured and even killed due to hostility from patients they treated while on shift!

10. Stay Alert:

Hostile patients can be unpredictable, and nurses must always stay alert while caring for them. It means being on the lookout for any changes in their demeanor or behavior, which could lead to a hostile situation.

11. Limit Personal Contact:

In several cases, it may be necessary to limit personal contact with hostile patients to reduce the risk of injury. It could mean avoiding direct eye contact, maintaining a safe distance when providing care, or not touching them unnecessarily.

12. Remain Professional:

No matter how angry or hostile a patient may become, nurses should never lose sight of the fact that they are professionals who must maintain their composure.

Responding in kind to a patient’s anger or hostility will only escalate the situation and increase their risk of injury.

13. Use Humor:

Humor, especially self-deprecating humor, often helps defuse tense situations quickly without escalating them further into conflict territory. Using humor in these situations may not always be appropriate, but it can be beneficial if someone knows how to use it appropriately (e.g., not at inappropriate times).

14. Don’t Take It Personally:

It is essential that nurses not take patient hostility personally. It can be difficult when patients are hostile towards them because they feel that the nurse isn’t doing enough for them or their family members and friends, who may also work as staff at the hospital.


Nurses need to remember that they are not alone in dealing with violent situations – many different types of people face these challenges daily, so don’t feel isolated! The best way to cope with patient hostility is to have a sound support system and use self-defense techniques.

About Author

Shashank Jain, founder of good-name, a young and energetic entrepreneur has always been fond of technology. His liking for technology made him go for engineering in computers. During his studies, he learned & worked on different computer languages & OS including HBCD, Linux, etc. He also has a keen interest in ethical hacking.

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