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A Piece of My Mind
February 25, 2004

Irritability (Yours and Theirs)

Author Affiliations
 

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(8):921-922. doi:10.1001/jama.291.8.921

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 an edge.

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.

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