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Medical Assistant’s Actions in Challenging Situations

Difficult patient encounters

Despite the fact that difficult patients do not occur so often in practice, medical staff should be prepared for their appearance. A difficult patient is one who causes unpleasant feelings in the doctor, which can become an obstacle on the way of treatment – anger, fear, guilt, and other similar emotions. The reasons for complex relationships may be manipulation by the patients, their anger and closeness, the fuzziness of complaints, or exaggerated anxiety. On the part of a medical assistant, the situation can be complicated by professional burnout, fatigue, and lack of sleep.

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In such a situation, the medical assistant must, first of all, behave professionally and comply with the rules of the hospital or office. Second, it must be remembered that the majority of difficult patients do not act in a harmful way deliberately but have psychological problems or severe pain due to illness. Awareness of this fact will help arouse sympathy and recall the medical staff’s obligation to help patients and maintain therapy. However, there are exceptions including the relations with the patient, which may not improve, and a subsequent need to transfer him or her to another specialist. One more exceptional situation when the assistant is almost powerless in helping difficult patients is in case of the danger they may carry. The threat possibility signals the need for the mandatory presence of a second representative of the personnel, and in extreme situations – the need to call the security or police.

Educating patients to follow the doctor’s instructions

The medical assistant makes a significant contribution to working with the patient by conducting some educational conversations. First of all, the treated person’s education involves an actual description of what he or she needs to do and why. Second, a sensory description of possible sensations, such as pain or dizziness after the procedure, is required to prevent anxiety. Third, it is vital to make sure that the patient understood everything that was explained. Involving patients in the treatment process is vital as it helps to reduce their anxiety, as well as to understand the situation and follow the instructions more strictly.

The education of the patient also requires the availability of certain instructional materials. At the first visit, the assistant should familiarize the person with the hospital or office rules and the information sheet can help. The materials may also include data on the patient’s problem in both print and electronic forms, such as drawings or videos of necessary exercises. Following the doctor’s direction, the clinical assistant can give information about a healthy lifestyle, getting rid of bad habits, or preventing diseases. The main task of all the mentioned educational measures is the patient’s understanding of the importance of following the doctor’s instructions.

Educating staff members about patient privacy and confidentiality

Patients’ privacy is an integral part of their relationship with medical personnel. Health information records allow doctors of various specializations to select essential factors affecting the overall person’s condition and track a patient’s history. Privacy is protected by the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and under this law, no one except the patients and doctors working with them can see personal data. Each office and hospital should take the necessary measures to protect the patient’s confidentiality to prevent unpleasant situations, fines, and other possible consequences.

A medical assistant can play an essential role in keeping patient data private. First, the task is to inform all staff of this need. This can be achieved by providing them with information about the law and its importance, and the possible consequences of non-compliance. The assistant can provide training materials on these aspects to all staff conducting training on an annual basis. Second, the assistant needs to ensure that appropriate guidelines and procedures to preserve privacy are present in the hospital or office rules. If the department has started to operate recently, it is necessary to create them. Third, it is essential to recall the procedures for keeping data private, for example, by the regular change of password, which allows access to them. Compliance with rules and procedures will create the basis for trusting relationships with patients.

Opening and closing the office (safety concerns)

There is usually equipment, money, computers, and other important things in the medical office. With the neglect of safety measures, an accident or robbery can occur. For these reasons, a crucial part of the medical assistant’s routine work is opening and closing the office. To prevent thefts, staff needs to take care of the presence of alarms. Then the day will begin and end with its turn on-off and check. Nevertheless, these actions will protect the office from a possible robbery.

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Another aspect that requires the constant attention of the assistant is fire safety. The office must meet all requirements, and the staff is aware of the necessary actions in case of danger. When opening the office, the assistant checks and turns on the equipment required for work ensuring all cords and sockets are in the correct state. Closing the office also requires some special safety review procedures. Electrical devices for which there is no need for constant operation should be turned off and checked for the absence of damage. After that, the assistant inspects whether the windows and the necessary locks are closed and turns off the light. The working day ends with the closing of the office doors. While such measures take time, their enforcement can prevent significant losses.

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