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5 Things Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew

Ever wonder what goes on in your doctor's mind? Here are five things doctors wish their patients would know.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD
8-minute read
Episode #202

3.  Reasons Why Doctors Run Late

Like I’ve previously mentioned, I hate it when people run late.  Even more so when it’s myself. I also hate excuses. This is why this one kills me. Because the truth is that the primary care predicament in this country is quite a messy one. It’s mayhem. Clinics have a tremendous high overhead, and primary care office visits are not well-reimbursed. Therefore, there needs to be a high volume of patients seen in order to even break even, and office visits are often 15 to 20 minutes maximum.

This is the exact reason why there’s a shortage of primary care doctors in this country, because medical students are not selecting a primary care specialty because they realize they will not only have to live a high-stress, fast-paced work schedule on a daily basis for the next 40 years, but that they cannot pay off their school loans doing so.

My previous article on this topic went viral. Perhaps partly because I have struck a nerve with those in the trenches of primary care, like myself, who can relate. Listen to the podcast (or view the article) to learn what a very realistic and typical chaotic schedule and day for a primary care doctor really is like.

So if your doctor is running late, believe me, they are not out to lunch or on a Starbucks run.

4.  Be Honest

We are here to help you take charge of your health. 

I recently had a patient come see me for a routine physical. After asking my long list of questions to decipher his overall health, I ran some routine labs that returned with anemia and abnormal liver enzyme results.  At his second visit, even though he had denied alcohol use initially, after much further prodding and poking he finally admitted that he’s a heavy drinker. He also uses marijuana on a daily basis.  Why does he do these things? He’s self-medicating another underlying mental health issue, like many patients with alcohol and drug abuse.

I remember also seeing a young woman in her early 20s, brought in by her mom for severe abdominal pain.  Her mom was very visibly worried about her. I was, too—even though I sensed there was a missing piece of mysterious information at the time.

I kicked the mom out of the exam room like I always do with teens and older patients. She didn’t reveal a thing. So I had no choice but to send this young patient to the ER. Turns out, she was simply severely constipated. So when I saw her back in the office for a follow-up visit, she admitted to having taken her boyfriend’s “vicodin” while on a trip to a local amusement park after some “foot pain” she experienced there. Then later, she finally revealed … it was really to heighten her roller coaster “high.” Narcotics are notoriously known for causing constipation, and sometimes quite severely.

I see these cases more often than I like. But the bottom line is this: please be honest with your doctor. Doctors are not in law enforcement, we are not reporting alcohol and drug intake. Your medical records are protected by HIPPA laws, and no one can have access to them without your consent. We are here to help you take charge of your health. There’s no reason not to be completely honest. How else can we care for you to the best of our ability? 

5.   Stay Off the Internet

Last but certainly not the least involves a topic that is highly unpopular within the physician community all-over … Google University. Googling your symptoms on the Internet is plain unhealthy.  Especially if you are the anxious type. Honestly, I am telling you this not just as a physician but as a doctor who truly cares about her listeners.

Just think about it:  If Google could truly replace your doctor, or be as accurate, wouldn’t doctors be out of business? Why would we need to go through a minimum of 11 years of schooling past high-school to get to where we are? How can Google replace this extra and prolonged amount of complex problem-solving knowledge and experience?

No, Acai berries are not the answers to your weight loss dream. Please stop listening to resources on the television and Internet that are simply after your wallet and not in your best interests.  I know it’s sometimes not easy to hear the truth. But a physician with integrity will always give it to you straight, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.

The truth is … TV, Google, and social media simply cannot replace your doctor’s knowledge and experience. It just can’t. Leave it alone. Really … just stop it.

If you don’t trust your doctor, then it’s time to find a new one.

If you do decide to search the Internet for medical information, for goodness sakes, at least select sources and websites that will tell you the truth (like the House Call Doctor who is dedicated to providing her listeners with the most evidence-based and truthful advice available). My prior podcast on this topic is exactly the advice that I give to my own patients seeking medical information on the Internet. If you want to learn how to seek more valid information, please check it out.

OK, that one was truly close to my heart.  I’ll let it go now.

And there you have it: the five things that I wish all my patients knew. If they all could only obtain these five pieces of information, we would be so much closer to reaching our goals, which are to keep you as healthy as possible, and to help you take charge of your health.

Share your ideas and learn more quick and dirty tips with us on the House Call Doctor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.  You can even find me on Pinterest.

Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Medical Disclaimer
Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.