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Of artichokes and angry patients

I agree with the premise of Rossiter and Lazoritz’s article, “Of Artichokes and Angry Patients” that nurses are often the recipients of displaced anger and are not always equipped to deescalate these situations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the potential for healthcare workers to encounter volatile situations is increasing at an alarming rate. Anger is an outward sign of inner turmoil and conflict. Once unleashed, anger can quickly escalate into volatile situations. The authors’ comparison of angry patients to artichokes “prickly and rough on the outside…tender inside” illustrates the importance of developing high-level listening and communication skills.

Rossiter and Lororitz suggest listening first and waiting at least one full minute prior to moving on to clarify, empathize or attempt to resolve an issue. As an educator, this simple “magic minute” technique could be easily taught and adopted globally within an organization. For example, introduce the technique during employee orientation and reinforce it as experienced staff role model the technique in coaching and mentoring situations.

Additionally, I believe identifying and deescalating volatile situations should be part of student curriculum. I am concerned the current trend towards the increasing use of patient simulation may leave students unprepared to communicate effectively in crisis situations.

I believe healthcare organizations can create safer environments for staff and patients by committing to equip all health care workers with the necessary techniques and skills to identify and de-escalate volatile situations.

– Tamera Tillery, RN, BSN, director of education, Providence Health Center, Waco, TX   Read the article here.


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