Dealing with Aggressive Patients

A patient expressing frustration at a nurse.

One of the most important steps you can take when confronting an aggressive patient is to remain calm. Shutterstock

We have all had those patients. Nearly every nurse has experienced a patient shouting at her, berating her, and telling her where to go.

Occasionally, those moments escalate into pure aggression on the part of the patient. Your patient may throw things at you, spit at you, or physically try to attack you. It doesn’t do much for a nurse’s morale to face this sort of patient, but if you are in nursing long enough, you will find a patient who becomes aggressive with you.

You can deal with aggressive patients by remembering some simple rules, but you should also consider how an aggressive patient impacts you emotionally. Nurses are harder on themselves than anyone should be, and you may expect yourself to “roll with” the abuse you regularly take from patients. This isn’t actually the case, and it can be quite detrimental over time.

Dealing With Angry Patients


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The International Nurses Association was founded on the idea that professional achievement is deserving of recognition, exposure and reward. As a meeting place for the top minds in nursing, INA offers unlimited opportunities to further your success and embrace your role as a vital member of the medical community. INA is the fastest growing network of nurses from around the globe and takes pride in delivering its members the platform and competitive edge needed to survive in this ever-changing and complex environment. Visit
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