We all have them, but no one wants them--difficult patients. I’m not talking about patients with complex medical conditions. I’m talking about patients who try your patience. The occurrence is so frequent that Seinfeld had an episode devoted to the problem, though for the doctor and the real patient it is not so humorous. For over 30 years researchers have found that doctors have consistently described about 15-20% of their patients as ‘difficult’. More detailed surveys have found that doctors who are younger and female tend to have more ‘difficult’ patients in their practice.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) may cause your office some headaches because of the “Patient Protection” aspects of the legislation. There have been high profile cases recently, in which Cignet Health and
Albert Einstein was once asked how he went about solving his problems. He replied, “If I had only one hour, I’d spend the first 50 minutes defining the problem and the last 10 minutes solving it.” I don’t know if this story is true or not, because I have heard the same story about a lumberjack, who, when asked how he would go about felling a tree in one hour reply, “I’d spend the first 50 minutes sharpening my ax and the last 10 minutes felling the tree.” The point of these stories is that the key to solving any problem is to accurately define the problem.