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How do I deal with a hypochondriac patient?

A hypochondriac patient can be frustrating to handle. As a caregiver, you’ll always want to make sure your patient is safe. A hypochondriac may “cry wolf” seven out of eight times, but may actually have a legitimate concern the eighth time.

Here are some tips for dealing with a hypochondriac:

1. Listen to the patient’s concerns. Let him complain about his bellyache. Remain neutral but empathetic.

2. The hypochondriac, if experienced, may have impressive medical knowledge. Discourage self-diagnosis.

3. Agree with the doctor’s assessment. Assure the patient of the quality of care he’s receiving.

4. Let the patient voice his concerns to the doctor. The doctor will be able to assess what’s real, what’s exaggerated and what’s fabricated.

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5 Responses to How do I deal with a hypochondriac patient?

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  3. Gina

    As a nurse in training who was a hypochondriac in my 20′s, I can say that many hypochondriacs are truly suffering emotionally. It’s often a somatic way of dealing with repressed mental pain. In my example, my childhood was abusive and I watched several family members commit suicide. But I was taught not to cry so my anxiety came out in hypochondria. Please be patient with hypochondriacs. Almost everyone would change their fears if they could.

  4. kim89

    my friend is 23 and i believe she is a hypochondriac. she has had brain scans, smears, and blood tests which always come back clear, she makes appointments to the doctors on a weekly basis. she is convinced she suffers migraines and has a tumor, she is also convinced she has arthritis in her ankles because she broke it as a child and says it didn’t set right even tho she can stay up all night dancing wear high heels an has a job where she stands all day. she has tried every contraception on offer and is convinced only the coil will work even though the doctors wont fit it for her. she said she had a miscarriage and a womb infection and the doctors couldn’t find any evidence of this. if she has acne she complains that she has measles, she has made many complaints about medical staff and basically every week there is a new illness with her. Her doctors carry on seeing her every week and keep sending her to hospital yet no one has diagnosed any illness. it is frustrating to everyone involved in her life and yet the doctors aren’t treating this illness, she loses all of her friends and will probably lose her job over this. i understand doctors find this difficult to deal with but still no one has told her shes a hypochondriac and no one is treating her actual illness

  5. Dawn

    My mother is a hypochondriac to the extreme. It’s been this way since I was a child. One vivid memory is her laying in bed with me and my siblings gathered around her telling us she was dying any minute. It never dawned on me how that would affect my life forever. Now I am 50 and my mother lives and breaths doctors and pills. To me, not being able to go to the doctors with her, I sense the doctors are supporting her problem. Although many tell her there is nothing wrong, she will continue to seek anyone that will continue medicating issues she does not have. She is obese with type II diabetes, that’s it, nothing else. And yet still eats a horrible diet and does nothing physical what so ever because of the imaginary problems she thinks she had. What she does is goes to the doctors and tells them what her previous doctors diagnosed, even though they didn’t, and the new doctors just seem to fall for it. How this has affected ALL four of her kids, we are all apprehensive to listen to our own bodies or seek medical attention when we really need to. We are all “afraid” to become like her. I am finding it very difficult to call her and talk or ask how she is. I don’t want to be around her at all anymore because the entire time, whether it be holidays or taking her out for mother’s day….it’s constant complaints about illness. She an addict of pain killers that she gets for “whatever” and doctors prescribe these!!! I just am running out of compassion and understanding with her. I’ve even “lost it” a couple of time with her and just told her she not sick! She medicates her husband for things he does not have. Suddenly he miraculously was healed of Lupus (he never had) because the doctor here tested him and found nothing of the kind. Mind you, he’s had lupus for 20 years!!! According to her. She did this when we were kids too…telling doctors I had asthma when I didn’t, allergies I never had. As an adult, having had a hysterectomy, she told me I was dying in recovery. It’s too much and it’s destroyed my relationship with my own mother. I’ve read all I can to find out how to deal with this problem, and I can’t do any more “enabling” her. I simply call her on it and move on. She gets mad, yes. But my own life is suffering and has been by the constant “loss” of my mother. She’s never been able or willing to do anything beyond herself for long enough. My own children have no relationship with her because she’s never taken the time or effort to know them either. I find this heartbreaking. And that’s the only thing real about this.