A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne
K. Young, Associate Editor.
Irritable patients. You have them. You dread them. Irritable patients
elicit a visceral "Oh, no!" response when their names are lurking on your
patient schedule. They make you irritable, defined
as quick excitability to annoyance, impatience, or anger—whining with
While some difficult patients ("somatisizers," drug seekers, chronic
noncompliers) have been described at length, little information exists on
the differential and care of the irritable patient, or patients acting irritably.
Irritability merits consideration because irritable patients drain you emotionally
and are probably dissatisfied with you as well. Irritation may escalate to
anger, and angry patients are more likely to sue, even with an acceptable
level of medical care.
McCauley J, Tarpley MJ. Irritability (Yours and Theirs). JAMA. 2004;291(8):921-922. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.921