Important Things That Many Doctors Don’t Tell Their Patients

Patients expect their doctors to be 100 percent honest with them, but the reality is that doctors aren’t always totally truthful. While many doctors have worked for most of their lives to become the best in their field, some don’t yet know the ins and outs of every health situation. And sometimes, doctors may tell white lies in order not to upset their most sensitive patients. Keep reading to learn about the most important things doctors usually don’t share with their patients.

They Won’t Tell Patients If It’s Their First Time Doing Something

a doctor outside near a tree
Humberto Chavez/Unsplash
Humberto Chavez/Unsplash

There’s a first time for everything and that even applies to doctors. Every human is unique, which means that a health care professional could be dealing with a treatment or a procedure for the first time at many points in their career.

According to Board Certified Family Medicine Physician Dr. Nofisat Almaroof, doctors have the right to not share with their patients that they are doing a treatment or a procedure for the first time or if they haven’t done it in a long time.

They Don’t Know Everything

a doctor posing with his arms crossed
Usman Yousaf/Unsplash
Usman Yousaf/Unsplash

Most patients expect their doctors to be extremely knowledgeable when it comes to their health. While many doctors are experts in their field, there are still some who need refreshers.

Doctors were able to get into medical school, but patients don’t know how they ranked when it came to their grades. Dr. Anthony Youn, M.D. said, “And as long as he or she passes the tests, then that person gets to be called ‘Dr.’ just like the rest of us.”

Avoid Going To The Doctor In July

a doctor holding a stethoscope
Online Marketing/Unsplash
Online Marketing/Unsplash

Several studies have concluded that July is the worst month to receive medical treatment. According to Dr. Youn, M.D., patients have a higher chance of getting some kind of medical error during the month of July.

This is because July 1 is the typical date when new interns begin working in hospitals and the previous interns start their residencies. This phenomenon is called the July effect. However, those who need medical attention shouldn’t rule out hospital and doctor visits because of it.

They Won’t Share Their Age

doctor in green scrubs
Adi Coco/Unsplash
Adi Coco/Unsplash

One of the most common questions patients ask their doctors is their age. Some people won’t put as much trust in those who appear younger because they’re perceived as having less knowledge than older physicians.

This is why many doctors refuse to share their age with their patients. While having more experience in the medical field is a bonus, Dr. Erica Steele of Holistic Family Practice says some patients can forget that younger doctors are usually more up-to-date on newer healthcare knowledge.

Doctors Don’t Want To Talk About Religion

A nurse kneels before the tabernacle
Alvaro Fuente/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Alvaro Fuente/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One issue that can often overlap with medical treatment and procedures is religion. Many religions guide people on how they should be living their lives, so patients want to know their doctors’ opinions as well.

Dr. Erica Steele of Holistic Family Practice said, “Although I have a strong spiritual background, I often do not feel my health care practice is often the place to express those views, especially when I am fearful of saying the wrong thing or the right thing.”

Doctors Can Refuse To Perform A Surgery

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Bermix Studio/Unsplash
Bermix Studio/Unsplash

Most doctors want to do what’s best for their patients. Some people may not know that doctors have the right to refuse surgeries, procedures, and treatments if they feel that they would be unfit for the patient.

“As an elective cosmetic surgeon, I don’t operate on all patients that see me for a consultation,” said Beverly Hills Oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Christopher Zoumalan, M.D. Doctors need to use their good judgment skills to determine if the patient will benefit from a procedure.

Nutrition Isn’t Their Forte

Fresh fruits and vegetables lie on display at a Spanish producer's stand
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Almost everyone who goes to the doctor is asked about their eating habits. Doctors want to make sure that their patients are eating a nutritious diet, but there’s something they aren’t telling patients.

Many of them don’t have too much experience specifically in the field of nutrition because that wasn’t their focus in school. This is why doctors will often refer patients who want to know more about diet to a weight management clinic, nutritionist, or dietician.

They Never Want To Guess About A Diagnosis

doctor talking to a patient in the hospital
National Cancer Institute/Unsplash
National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

One of the worst things a doctor could do is to guess a patient’s diagnosis without performing any tests. Doctors never want to be wrong when it comes to diagnosing their patients, so they are wary about guessing.

Dr. Jack J. Springer, M.D., an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra-Northwell, said, “We use the best evidence available to make a diagnosis and treat illness. Don’t ask your doctor to guess.”

They Don’t Want You To Depend On Antibiotics

pills held in a patient's hand
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dr. Jack J. Springer, M.D. wants patients to know that antibiotics aren’t the answer for everything. People will often take them when they get illnesses such as ear infections, fevers, flu, or bronchitis, but some doctors warn patients not to solely rely on them.

These viruses usually have to run their course in the body and antibiotics sometimes won’t have a positive effect. Dr. Springer said the antibiotics can actually cause negative side effects such as bacterial resistance.

How Doctors Handle Life-Threatening Illnesses

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National Cancer Institute/Unsplash
National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Doctors often know when patients don’t have a high chance of survival while battling a life-threatening illness, but they never want the patient to give up. Many encourage their patients to keep testing, going to therapy, and enduring more hospitalizations even though they might not make a difference.

Dr. Jack J. Springer, M.D. believes that doctors’ persistence with endless treatments can hinder someone’s last days of life. “There is withholding of a description of the emotional and physical costs of ‘battling’ when there is little likelihood of success,” said Springer.

Schedule Medical Appointments Early In The Morning

doctor holding a thumbs up
Sammy Williams/Unsplash
Sammy Williams/Unsplash

Doctors want to give their all to every patient, but they’re only human. They can’t always expend the amount of energy they would like when it comes to providing care for their patients.

This is why it’s best for people to schedule their doctor’s appointments at the earliest time available. “Many times, by the end of the day, doctors…are physically exhausted and they may not be as focused as they are in the beginning of the shift,” said chiropractor Brandon Meade, D.C.

Some Doctors May Have A Troubled Past

a doctor flipping her hair
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Rendy Novantino/Unsplash

Although most doctors won’t want to admit it, they’ve probably made some mistakes over the course of their career. These could include complications during a procedure or prescribing the wrong medication.

Dr. Thomas Horowitz of CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, suggests that patients ask their doctors some questions to determine if they have messed up in the past. “Ask if they: a) have withdrawn from a medical staff to avoid an inquiry, b) have had any accusations or board actions, and/or c) have had to give up any privileges at a facility.”

Don’t Exaggerate Your Symptoms

a black and white closeup of a stethoscope
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Hush Naidoo/Unsplash

Doctors want to make sure they’re giving their patients the most accurate care possible, which can be hindered if patients lie about their condition. Some patients feel the need to exaggerate their symptoms in order to be taken seriously.

Dr. Rachel Shively, M.D., an Emergency Medicine physician and toxicologist, shared that patients shouldn’t do this. Instead, they should be honest about how they’re feeling and never threaten to sue in case they aren’t satisfied with the doctor’s response. Doctors will usually apply the appropriate care for any level of patient discomfort.

Don’t Lie To Your Doctor

male and female doctors posing for a photo
Junior Reis/Unsplash
Junior Reis/Unsplash

Dr. Rachel Shively, M.D., wants patients to know that doctors can tell when they are lying. This is one of the most dangerous things to do because patients need to explain every detail of their condition in order for doctors to care for them the right way.

“…With lying, it is usually because they are embarrassed or nervous that we won’t give them the same care if they are upfront about things they do that might be disadvantageous to their health…,” said Dr. Shively.

Doctors Think About You After You Leave

doctor talking to a patient in a retro office
National Cancer Institute/Unsplash
National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Otolaryngologist and surgeon Jordan Glicksman said, “I suspect most patients don’t realize how much time we spend thinking about them after they’ve left the office.” Doctors always want to get to the root cause of their patients’ conditions, which causes them to spend extra time thinking of the right treatments.

Doctors also may need to converse with their colleagues about their patients to make sure they’re giving the best advice possible. Patients should realize that the doctor’s visit isn’t over when they leave the office.

Your Referral May Be A Friend Of Your Doctor

a group of doctors walking in a hallway
Luis Melendez/Unsplash
Luis Melendez/Unsplash

It’s common for patients to get referrals from their doctors for dozens of other specialties such as dermatology, radiology, or podiatry. While some doctors choose referrals by location, others may refer their patients to their friends.

Dr. Thomas Horowitz, from CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, said this is common because doctors have a personal relationship with these referrals. Dr. Horowitz goes on to say that patients need to be aware of whether the referral is up to their standards or if they think it’s just a friend of their doctor.

Medical Students And Residents Might Practice On You

a medical student suturing a patient
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Artur Tumasjan/Unsplash

Those who aren’t familiar with the medical term “suture” should know that it is just another word for stitches. Dr. Anthony Youn, M.D. spoke about medical students and residents suturing people while they are sleeping.

While this does sound very concerning, Dr. Youn said that expert surgeons are always watching and will make sure the closure is as perfect as it can be. The medical students and residents need to practice on living people, so they will have experience when they finish their residencies.

Doctors May Have To Use Leeches

a man with leeches all over his hand and arm
Ian Cook/Getty Images
Ian Cook/Getty Images

Leeches first appeared as a type of medical treatment during the 17th and 18th centuries AD in Europe and were a common tool for doctors for many years. Some patients may not know that leech therapy hasn’t gone completely extinct.

“If all else fails, we will use leeches. They act like a temporary attachable vein, removing the overloaded venous blood,” said Dr. Anthony Youn, M.D. According to Integrative Medical Research, leeches also contain anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, and antimicrobial effects.

Ask Questions About At-Home Care

doctor writing down notes
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

There may be an instance where a patient will need to receive medical attention or recover at home. Dr. Paul Parker, a plastic surgeon and author, wants patients to make sure they ask their doctors about how to prepare for at-home care.

This is because doctors will often neglect to tell their patients what they will need and what they should expect. “Support pillows, drinking straws, pickup tools, and a medical grade shower chair are all examples of products that can help a patient feel safer and more comfortable after surgery,” said Dr. Parker.

Doctors Try Not To Be Opinionated

a doctor posing for a photo with a pink background
Austin Distel/Unsplash
Austin Distel/Unsplash

It’s extremely important for doctors to be as neutral as possible in order to not let their personal judgments get in the way of treating their patients. Doctors are there to provide the facts and nothing more.

Dr. Erica Steele of Holistic Family Practice shared that she tries to be objective when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of various healthcare scenarios for her patients. “It is not my job to place blame, judgment, or sway my patients in any direction,” said Dr. Steele.