What a Triage Nurse Can Do To Handle Abusive Callers
Every nurse has had that one patient that did everything they could to be as difficult as possible. When a patient calls a triage nurse line, it is usually not their best day. These callers can be angry and just plain abusive. As a triage nurse, you will have to know how to manage this type of patient in order to give them the best care advice. Watch this short video on how to manage and help a caller that is abusive, angry and difficult to communicate with.
In order to assist the caller, the nurse must first be able to communicate with them. They will be upset with situations the nurse has no control over. The triage nurse must be able to control the call and put themselves, as well as the caller back to what matters: the patient’s condition. The nurse must understand that the caller’s anger is not about them, so do NOT take it personally. A well trained triage nurse will put themselves in the patient’s shoes. Often there is more going on than what is on the surface. The patient could be sick, scared, or tired. Empathy is a great tool for any nurse in all situations. Understanding and friendliness go a long way to help diffuse even the most challenging person. Make it a personal challenge to turn around even the most difficult callers.
If empathy and friendliness do not help, and the caller is still not willing to listen to anything, the nurse can change their strategy. It is important for the nurse to give the patient the benefit of the doubt by politely letting them know that they want to assist the caller, but that it is difficult when they are speaking in that manner. If that doesn’t work, repeat what you said and ask them to please stop using that language. For example :
After exhausting all other strategies, inform the caller that you are no longer the person who can assist them, and let them know you are going to hang up and have a manager or physician call him. It is crucial to make sure you say “I am sorry, but I am going to hang up now” BEFORE you hang up and then do it.
A triage nurse will always have the patient’s best interest in mind, but sometimes both sides may need a timeout to reframe the situation. While you cannot prevent a difficult call, you can control your reaction. The best triage nurses prevent emotions from escalating by expressing compassion and maintaining professionalism. Remember, you do not have to subject yourself to verbal abuse.
About the TriageLogic Online Learning Center
TriageLogic’s Online Learning Center is available free of charge to telephone triage nurses and teams as an educational resource and practical training guide. Along with course videos, coursework includes class notes, related articles, and learning materials. You will receive a TriageLogic Telephone Nurse Triage Certification for each completed course. Managers can also set-up teams and check on their individual nurse progress in the course.
What to Read Next : 911 Triage Calls- How to Help Your Callers Follow Through