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Workplace violence and challenging patient personalities: Solutions for the dental professional

May 14, 2024
While there is no fail-safe way to respond to challenging situations—and certainly no guaranteed solution—there are things you can do to lessen their negative effects and keep your patients and team safe.
Vicki Cheeseman, Associate Editor

Workplace violence isn’t limited to an industry, a geographical region, or an office size. As with any emergency, it can manifest in a thousand different ways and often in just an instant.

In light of recent acts of workplace violence against dental professionals, how will you prepare yourself and your team should a similar event occur in your office? What is the best way to handle disruptive patients so that you can maintain a professional environment for your staff and your other patients?

While there is no fail-safe way to respond to challenging situations—and certainly no guaranteed solution—there are things you can do to lessen their negative effects and set the stage for a more positive resolution.

DentistryIQ has several enlightening articles that can help you de-escalate difficult patient encounters, create a plan in the event of an emergency, and ultimately keep your patients and team safe.

What we can learn from recent acts of workplace violence

Bethany Montoya, BAS, RDH, editorial director of Clinical Insights, explains why it is imperative to establish plans to ensure workplace safety and offers resources that can help.

De-escalating tense situations in the dental office

Besides being unsafe, workplace violence can lead to employee turnover. Who wants to work in a practice where they feel scared? Learn how to respond to tense circumstances in a way that leads to more positive outcomes.

How psychological schemas impact the dental appointment

Have you ever encountered a difficult patient and thought, “I do NOT get paid enough for this!”? Here’s a look at some challenging behaviors and advice on how to deal with these patients.

Red flags and personality disorders

Patients with personality disorders may act inappropriately to the detriment of the entire dental team. Watch for these red flags so you can better handle patients with maladaptive behaviors.

Effective reasoning with unreasonable patients

We can’t control our patients’ emotions and behaviors, but we can control our own. Try these strategies to analyze tense situations and apply effective reasoning.

Strategies for listening to difficult patients

Effective listening skills can help de-escalate uncomfortable situations—from dealing with patients with negative attitudes to serious incidents of patient aggression and violence. Here’s how to become a better listener.

Learn how to protect yourself against workplace violence in this Dentistry Unmasked podcast from Dental Economics.

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Editor’s note: This article first appeared in Clinical Insights newsletter, a publication of the Endeavor Business Media Dental Group. Read more articles and subscribe.


Vicki Cheeseman is an associate editor in Endeavor Business Media's Dental Group. She edits for Dental EconomicsRDH, Perio-Implant Advisory, DentistryIQ, and Clinical Insights.