How do I deal with a non-compliant patient?

medicine-to-patientFirst, try to figure out why the patient is non-compliant. Most patients don’t simply decide to stop taking their meds or following their doctors orders “just because.” Maybe her health insurance recently expired or her income decreased. Maybe she had no way to get to the pharmacy. Maybe she’s the only one trying to eat healthfully in a house full of junk food.

So listen to your patient without judgment. Express a genuine concern for understanding her situation, and let her know that you’re interested in helping her find healthcare solutions that fit her lifestyle.

Once you understand your patient’s position, help her find positive solutions. If money is a problem, refer her to Social Services or ask her doctor about the possibility of free meds. Your hospital’s case managers can also help your patient connect with community services.

Brainstorm with your patient. Too often, we create healthcare prescriptions for patients without considering their lifestyle. If you’re trying to design a healthier menu plan, talk to your patient about the types of foods she like to eat, and incorporate them into a new eating plan. If forgetting to take her meds is an issue, but she has her cell phone on her all the time, consider one of the new text reminder systems.

Together with your patient, you should be able to find a workable solution.

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3 Responses to How do I deal with a non-compliant patient?

  1. I agree with all of the above information, helping them to find a solution to the problem is the best way to go. But sometimes you will run into the patient that is just stubborn or trying to “fit in” to the world on non-medication takers, such the example I used in a previous article about the teenager that stopped taking meds so he could drink. You as the nurse can be a HUGE influence to this type of patient but you must be able to take time out to listen to them. Provide opportunities to interject why their medications are so important to their health and what some of the consequences may be if they do not take their meds, but in a compassionate way. This can be frustrating at times but try to empathize with the patient as best you can.

  2. Terry

    I worked in a retail pharmacy for many years and that was our big problem. Even with insurance some meds can still be very high. I would tell customers to look on the internet for coupons. Some can be used along with your insurance co-pay to help knock down the price and others can run cheaper than the insurance co-pay out right.

  3. Jen

    Sometimes we need to look beyond the anger and hatefulness of patients to see what is really underneath. I had a patient that was refusing everything saying that he was leaving. Doctors tried to write it off as none compliance, but after being with the patient and showing him that he was important and that he really was sick, he then told me that he was scared.. Remember that sometimes noncompliance is really just fear of what is not known. I know what we do is hard and stressful, but sometimes we just have to remember to keep it real with the people we care for and remember that we should take time to see the person behind the sickness we treat..