From monitoring patients’ health to administering medications, hospital nurses have their hands full with life-saving responsibilities. Yet, nurses and other hospital staff are expected to complete all of their tasks while coping with patient anger and, even at times, violence.
Patient hostility toward hospital workers is not a new issue
The president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Linda Silas, even recalls running anti-violence campaigns years ago: “The first stop-the-violence campaign I worked on [for healthcare workers] was in 1991.”
While patient hostility toward hospital staff has existed for decades because of staffing issues and long wait times, anger toward hospitals has surged in recent years due to the pandemic.
Dig deeper into this issue below for an in-depth understanding of why patient hostility is growing, how it’s influencing hospital workers and what can help to diffuse patient anger and better protect your staff.
Deciphering Causes for Anger at Hospitals
Now that Canadians have access to engaging experiences from all types of applications, like Netflix and Uber, they expect instant, streamlined services from every area of their lives, including hospitals.
This means that hospital patients want faster treatment, better information access, short wait times and overall positive experiences.
However, a survey by Statista highlights that only 46% of Canadians were satisfied by the healthcare system back in 2019. Since then, the pandemic has added pressure to Canadian hospitals, resulting in greater nursing shortages, a lack of hospital beds and delayed surgeries.
These challenges lead to longer wait times and often prevent patients from getting the quality of care that they need and want, sparking more re-admissions, health complications and loss of life.
Naturally, this chain of events has caused many Canadian patients to become dissatisfied and angry at hospitals, nurses and even other patients.
Between not being able to get a hospital room and other patients refusing to wear masks, patients have several reasons to feel hostile in a hospital setting. Many hospital workers even face hostility from people frustrated with Canada’s healthcare system on their way to work.
Ultimately, patients are angry at hospital workers because they don’t feel like their needs are being immediately met.
The Clear Consequences of Patient Hostility
As patients get angry at healthcare workers, some of them become aggressive and violent, adding to an endless cycle of anger and exhaustion, where nurses burn out and hospital processes slow down.
“We’re seeing protests outside hospitals, where physicians and patients are being harassed and then violent behaviour inside hospitals as people very sick, often with COVID, are refusing to believe that’s what’s going on and lashing out against the healthcare providers trying to help them,” says Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Katharine Smart.
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions also notes that there’s been almost a 66% surge in violence-related claims submitted by frontline healthcare workers in the past decade, which COVID-19 has further aggravated.
Patient hostility and violence have clear, negative impacts on worker productivity and satisfaction levels — and the only way to curb this cycle and provide better patient and worker satisfaction is to find a way to reduce patient anger.
Erasing Patient Hostility With Engaging, Interactive Experiences
For the most part, patients become hostile when they’re unable to control the situation around them or get the results they’re hoping for.
“Anger is the result of frustration when you do not get what you need, want, or expect from life or others,” explains Ben Martin, a Clinical Psychologist. “Anger is essentially a control tactic.”
To help alleviate patient anger, hospitals and staff simply need to give them an intuitive and productive outlet for controlling their environments.
That’s where modern technology comes in.
Hospitals can use interactive technology to give patients greater control and visibility over their health plans and rooms. In fact, many hospitals are already making the most of technology to provide personalized experiences, better communication between staff and patients and enhanced education opportunities through mobile devices.
Technology that can proactively meet the needs of patients and offer them some form of control over their situations at hospitals are capable of minimizing their frustration.
In other words, hospitals can transform patient hostility into satisfaction through digital experiences that give patients greater insight into their healthcare plans. Not only do these technologies have the power to reduce patient anger, but they can also ease the strain on staff — producing better outcomes and faster services for patients and hospitals alike.
For a breakdown of what types of technology can be used to diffuse hostility at your hospital, get in touch with a FlexITy representative here.