1. Never Ask Your Doctor to Lie
I know this seems self-explanatory and when would you ask your doctor to lie, but it happens more than you think it does.
The incidents that come to my mind are when patients want to stay off work longer, or not wanting to go back to work at all, or they want the doctor to document that they are sicker than they really are because they need to appear that way in order to qualify for something or get something.
I can ASSURE you, doctors are not willing to forfeit their licenses to help you be dishonest. It’s morally and ethically wrong and they won’t do it. Don’t even ask. And if you ask, you’re risking the possibility the doctor will not see you back.
Yes. Doctors CAN refuse to see you and they can most certainly “fire” you from their practice. Don’t be that person.
2. Never Get Too Many Opinions
A second opinion is fine, in fact, we encourage it and it’s certainly the patient’s right to do so. You want to make sure what the original doctor is telling you is correct and it’s helpful to get a second pair of professional eyes on the situation just to ensure nothing was missed or missed diagnosed. And mayyyybe a third opinion, but you’re pushing it. Anything more than three opinions and you’re running the risk of the doctor not seeing you at all.
When patients seek multiple opinions it doesn’t send a very positive message. Why so many? Do you not trust the doctors you’ve seen so far? Are you just looking for someone to give you the answer you want? It’s not a good look and if doctors find out you’ve seen six other doctors for the same issue, they will refuse to see you at all.
3. Never Drink Coffee Before You’ve Been Shown Back to the Exam Room
Okay, maybe NEVER is a strong word. Of course, bring your coffee with you to your appointment but it’s best NOT to drink it before we have a chance to get your blood pressure because it will absolutely affect your blood pressure, i.e. elevate your blood pressure. It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s better not to do it just so we can get a more accurate blood pressure.
And a quick note about blood pressure in general. There are MANY reasons your blood pressure could be elevated. Pain, of course. Diet, caffeine, your overall physical health, being nervous. Remember, when we get your blood pressure, that number reflects what your blood pressure was IN THAT MOMENT. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s that way all the time. That’s why your general doctor will ask you to keep a log so that they can calculate the average, which will give them a better overall idea on what your blood pressure truly is.
4. Never Forget to Report Over-the-Counter Medications, Vitamins and Supplements
I know. Talking about medications every time you go to a doctor, especially when your doctors are all part of the same medical system, is a pain in the butt. Trust me when I say, we hate going through them with the patients just as much. So please, stop the attitudes, okay?
It’s important to go through medications every visit because quite often, patients have discontinued a medication but it wasn’t removed from the list. So, if a doctor sees you’re on something they will be less likely to prescribe you a refill or something else – it’s important to keep the medication list updated. So when we ask if there have been any changes, you need to tell us so we can ensure those changes are in your chart.
I probably get the most attitude about vitamins, supplements and OTC medications. The doctor needs to know EVERYTHING you’re taking. (And this includes marijuana!). The biggest reason is because supplements can sometimes be contraindicated (which means they negatively interact with another medication) with a prescription medication and we don’t want to inadvertently send you to the ER because of a reaction.
Don’t blow this off. Keep track of what you’re taking and let your doctor know.
5. Never Forget to Ask Questions
Patients have a lot of questions and understandably so. They are trying to make sense about what is happening with their bodies and the more information a patient knows, the better.
And we want to answer their questions. But the clinical staff can only answer so many questions – we’re not the doctors. So. PLEASE write down your questions and bring them with you to your appointment. When you get here, you’re hurting and distracted and 9 times out of 10, people forget to ask something, call the office and then get frustrated when we don’t have an answer for them. Appointments are YOUR reserved time with the doctor to ask him/her your questions. Make the most of that time because trust me when I say, a doctor’s time is VERY valuable.
And side note: Once a doctor leaves the room, he/she is DONE. Appointment over. Patients will remember something they forgot to ask and they will ask the staff to ask the doctor to go back into their room. I can pretty much guarantee you that is not going to happen. You’ll just have to leave your questions with the staff and they will ask the doctor when they can and get back to you.
Sorry. But that’s just the way it is. If a doctor had to backtrack on every patient he/she saw that day, he/she would not only be behind, he/she would never get anything else done. Use your appointment time wisely.
6. Never Save the Most Important Part for Last
Look. You’re there to see the doctor about specific issues, (most likely). Doctors and the staff simply don’t have time to work up to the issue you’re there to see the doctor about. Get to the point. Tell us where it hurts. The quicker we get to the problem, the quicker the doctor can diagnose you and the quicker the staff can carry out his orders and get you on your way.
And please. Don’t give us attitude when we’re asking you questions about your pain. I promise, there is a good reason we’re asking these seemingly benign questions. Believe me when I say, we have much better things to do than stand there and play 20 questions with you to find out what is wrong. Be patient.
7. Never Show Up with Small Children
There is nothing more distracting than trying to talk around, or over, a crying, fussy child. Not to mention, it’s distracting to the doctor and the patient and questions don’t get asked and everything is rushed and inefficient.
It stresses us, the doctor, the patient and other patients out when we have to deal with a screaming child.
Doctors’ offices are incredibly boring to a child. And we have better things to do than to try and distract your child while also doing our job. I know it’s not always possible to leave a child with someone when you have an appointment but if you can avoid it, please make arrangements for someone to watch your children while you’re at the doctor’s office. You will be more relaxed, your doctor can focus and we can work on giving you the best care we’re capable of.
8. Never Say “I Know My Body”
Look. I get it. I’m one of those people that know their bodies, too. And it’s not a bad thing to be in tune with your body so that when something weird happens you notice it.
Doctors have years of education and experience so they know what they’re talking about. Can they get something wrong? Of course, they’re human, but don’t assume you know more than they do because it’s just insulting. That’s why is so important for you to be honest with your doctor about your pain and symptoms so that he/she can accurately diagnose you.
If something feels wrong or off, absolutely tell your doctor about it. Just don’t insult their intelligence when you do so.
Doctors have BIG egos, in case you weren’t aware. 🙂
9. Never Stay on Your Cell Phone when Staff Walks In
People, seriously, I PROMISE you the world will not end if you rip your eyeballs from your phone. Put it down. You will survive without it.
First of all, it’s rude to not put down your phone when people are talking to you in general. But it’s SUPER rude when you can’t look away from your phone to pay attention to medical staff or the doctor. Think of it this way – you’re PAYING for this appointment, don’t you want to get your money’s worth? And if someone calls you while you’re in the exam room with staff or the doctor, let it go to voicemail. We had a lady answer her phone one time while the doctor was with her and he walked out of the room! The lady opened the door and asked if he was going to come back and we told her yes, he would be back but he was with the next patient and she would have to wait on him now. She wasn’t happy but she deserved it. Don’t be that lady!
Another note about cell phones: sometimes we have patients ask if they can call someone that couldn’t make it to the appointment with them and put them on speaker phone so they can hear what the doctor has to say. Doctors are not crazy about this idea, but most of the time they will say yes because they understand people have to work and can’t get away. But ask the medical staff before the doctor goes in so we can give him/her a head’s up on the request before they walk in. They don’t like surprises.
10. Never Try and Get Advice for Someone Who is Not the Patient
It is unethical for the doctor to give out medical advice for anyone other than the patient. Don’t even try and bring it up, I promise you, the doctor will shut it down, fast. If you know someone that needs medical help, that patient needs to make an appointment.
End of discussion.