Course: Risk Management Consult: Repairing Difficult Patient Relationships, 2nd Edition
Author: Rosemary Gafner and James Schutte
AMA PRA Category 1 credits: 6
Estimated Hours to Complete Course: 5.50
Estimated Minutes to Complete Test: 30
Course Release Date: 8/1/2014
Course Expiration Date: 12/31/2021
Tips on working with difficult patients

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Risk Management Consult
Repairing Difficult Patient Relationships, 2nd Edition


Although difficult patients come in many different forms, they all tend to produce the same result: a dysfunctional physician-patient relationship that defeats its own purpose. And everyone suffers as a result. The patient doesn’t get better because she won’t follow instructions or she makes it impossible for you to make an accurate diagnosis. You’re left frustrated and unable to fully enjoy your profession. Not only that, but such patients will probably blame you for the poor outcome, and many doctors fear that such patients are more likely than most patients to sue—and when they do, what started as an unpleasant encounter becomes an expensive and ongoing nightmare that can shatter your world. Your staff is frustrated too, not only by their own difficulties with the patient, but because they feel your anger as well. And your other patients also suffer, because difficult patients often make you run late, leaving you less time to spend with following appointments, and because the toll that your frustration and resentment takes on your attitude is reflected in the way you interact with everyone. The point of this course is to show you how doctor-patient relationships can become dysfunctional and show you how to mend the relationship, improve communication and improve patient outcomes.


Upon completion of this course, a physician should be able to:

1.  Identify underlying issues that can cause some patients to seem difficult to get along with.
2.  Implement solutions for dealing with different types of challenging patients.
3.  Improve patient adherence by using specific techniques to determine reasons for noncompliance.
4.  Design specific strategies to help patients help themselves

Target Audience
This course is designed for physicians of all specialties.


This is a self-study course consisting of text and CME test.  Physicians should read the course content, answer the test questions and submit the answers for scoring.  Those who complete the course with a score of 80 percent or higher will earn a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 creditsTM.


This course was developed by Rosemary Gafner, Ed.D. and James E. Schutte, Ph.D.  Their CVs are available at

CME Information

Medical Risk Management, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing education for physicians.  Medical Risk Management, Inc. designates this  enduring material  for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 creditsTM.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity is valid for release May 1, 2019 and expires on December 31, 2021.

Estimated time to complete this activity: 6 hours.

Corexcel is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.  Satisfactory completion of the test will earn the nurse 15.68 contact hours.

Commercial Support

This activity was developed solely by Medical Risk Management, Inc. without any commercial support.


Neither Dr. Gafner nor Dr. Schutte have anything to disclose.

Please check with your insurance carrier for approved courses before registering.  Courses not approved by your insurance carrier will not be accepted by them for any discounts they may offer.