Management of agitated patients
Two consultants discuss how to manage anxious and agitated patients
Irritability is the tendency to display impatience, anger, or displeasure. Any agitated or ill person is likely to be irritable. People can become irritable and angry because they are harassed, apprehensive, lonely, and tired (HALT). For example, they may have had an argument with their partner, or have been kept waiting too long.
Management of the irritable or agitated patient is not really about treatment of illness, but about the doctor-patient relationship. It is essential to know how to put someone at ease and establish a good rapport, and to know what to do if you become angry or upset when you encounter agitated patients. You also need to recognise when to clinically manage irritability and agitation.
A good way to start when dealing with an irritable or agitated patient is to introduce yourself and say why you are there. Psychiatrists usually start a consultation with, “What problems have