1. Lufkin, Marianne C. SSCC

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As a student nurse, I find my first encounter with a patient to be one of the more anxious moments of my day. I've been taught not to have any preconceived notions about my patients, but information can change one's feelings-favorably or unfavorably.


I agree with Mona Shattell ("You Catch More Flies with Honey,"Viewpoint, February): patients who are considered "easy" are treated differently from those considered "difficult." Yet I don't believe the quality of care is compromised or should be compromised. It's often hard to spend as much time as we would like with our patients, and this could be conceived as avoidance, especially if the patient is "difficult." But sometimes it is avoidance. Nurses often are overworked and have limited time. A patient who is "difficult" takes time away from other patients, which causes the nurse even more stress.


One study found that nurses judge the social worth of individuals when balancing claims on their precious time and interact with clients depending on their opinion of them. 1 We can only hope that nurses are given the support and education they need from their supervisors to deal with "difficult" patients.


Marianne C. Lufkin, SSCC


Milton, MA




1. Johnson M, Webb C. Rediscovering unpopular patients: the concept of social judgement. J Adv Nurs 1995; 21(3):466-75. [Context Link]