Ethics in medicine - A clinical perspective: Difficult physician-patient encounters

K. J. Breen, P. B. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Consultant physicians encounter patients, and families and carers of patients, who leave us feeling helpless, frustrated, irritated and even angry. There are limited opportunities for trainees and physicians to discuss how to recognize, manage, learn from and prevent these difficult physician-patient encounters. This paper addresses factors, including physician factors, that may contribute to making encounters difficult, categorizes the types of difficult encounters and provides generic and specific suggestions (based in part on published literature and in part on our personal experience) about prevention and management of many of them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-688
Number of pages7
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Difficult patients
  • Empathy
  • Physician-patient relations

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