If you were to gather ten people and put them in a room and ask what their opinions of the worst thing that one person can do to another, it’s a safe bet that a handful would say lying. We are taught from childhood that lying is bad; there are few things to call someone that is worse than labeling them as a liar.
Why, then, do we do it so much? The statistics on lying are staggering. Depending on the source, over half of us can’t go ten minutes without telling a lie. And, during those ten minutes, the person will likely lie more than once. In an average day, depending on their level of interaction with other people, a person could be lied to more than 200 times per day!
In all actuality, most of these lies are what we recognize as “little white lies.” These are lies told to make us feel better about ourselves, maybe to position ourselves better among those in our social circles. But, some lies can have drastic consequences; particularly those that patients often tell to their doctors.
We, as humans, hate being judged. We don’t like being evaluated on our faults: our weight, our diet, our lifestyle choices. The doctor’s office is a place of healing but it is also a place where these things are brought front and center; laid out bare for the world, or at least the doctor, to hear and criticize.
A patient’s lie forces the doctor to make a choice. A blog post at KevinMD, a blog primarily read and contributed to by physicians, tells a story of a patient who presented classic signs of brain damage associated with alcohol and drug abuse. The patient, however, vehemently denied using either. This denial, of course, forced the doctor to explore the medically related possible causes for the patient’s symptoms.
It’s a physician’s perfect storm. On one hand, the patient’s symptoms are screaming for an obvious diagnosis (drug abuser), but, due diligence dictates that, in the face of a denial, other causes must be considered. The doctor must then determine if a round of expensive testing is necessary and then order it.
If the cause of the problem is medical then the doctor stands a good chance of fixing the situation. Addiction, on the other hand, isn’t something that can usually be controlled from within the walls of a general practitioner’s office and the doctor’s ability to impact that situation is drastically reduced.
The end result of all of this is bad for everyone involved. The patient doesn’t get the care they need and the doctor’s time, as well as the health care resources of the country, are wasted on unnecessary tests.
If there is one place that should be designated a “lie-free zone” it is your doctor’s office. Doctors are only able to treat and remedy those things for which they have all of the information necessary to make a proper diagnosis. You wouldn’t take your car to a repair shop and fail to tell the mechanic that you dumped coolant where the oil is supposed to go; the doctor’s office is no different.
And, in the event that your visit to the doctor results in any sort of legal action as a result of malpractice, negligence, or any other cause, the fact that your entire visit is predicated on a lie will make things that much more difficult for your legal team.
Do everyone a favor when you’re speaking with your physician and leave the white lies at the door. Your life and your future well-being could depend on it.