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Major Secrets Doctors Won't Tell You

Now you finally know what they really think of you, after you leave.

Doctors, like celebrities, are just like us—they have secrets. Things that bother them about medicine. Things that bother them about you. Worries about their own limitations. All of them are things you should know, so you can communicate more effectively with your physician and get better health care. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


They Know When You're Lying

female doctor with blue medical gloves and a stethoscope looks over her glasses in front of a clinic room

"You'd be surprised at how frequently patients come to the ER and decide not to tell us important details pertaining to their case," says Dr. Rachel Shively, MD, an emergency medicine physician and toxicologist practicing in New York. "Plus, we can tell when you're lying. 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—such as drug use or not being compliant with their medications. Which is totally not true—we certainly don't judge—but is sad. Things like what you took, or the mechanism of your injury, are important things to tell us."

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About Any Professional Sanctions or Problems

patient is angry on doctor because of medical error

"Consider complications they have had with procedures they do," says Dr. Thomas Horowitz of CHA Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. "Ask if they: a) have withdrawn from a medical staff to avoid an inquiry, b) have had any accusations or board actions, and/or c) have had to give up any privileges at a facility."

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What They Don't Know

Doctor woman, medical professional doubt expression, confuse and wonder concept, uncertain future

"Ninety-nine of the 100 things doctors won't share with their patients are what we don't know!" says Jack J. Springer, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra-Northwell. "For example, as an emergency physician, my primary role is to stabilize seriously ill patients and reverse their condition, if possible; next is to rule out, within reason, the presence of any life- or limb-threatening, or organ-threatening injury/illness; and lastly to decrease pain as much as is reasonable." 

He continues: "Many people come to ER expecting definitive answers and so are disappointed. But if you arrive with a benign rash, we will most often not be able to give a precise cause for the rash—and for the vast majority of time it won't make any negative difference."

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They Might Make Their Decision in Under 20 Seconds

male doctor is thinking about result of examination of his patients

"Perhaps the number one secret that doctors do not share with patients is that their training has provided little insight into the cause of illness. Statistically, within 18 seconds of a doctor entering a treatment room to see a patient, he knows what drug he is going to prescribe for whatever you have complained about," says Dr. Michael E. Platt, MD. "For example, if the complaint is insomnia, a hypnotic will be prescribed. If you have low back pain and fatigue, the doctor might prescribe Lyrica suspecting that you might have fibromyalgia." To get a more considered diagnosis, tell your doctor everything you're experiencing in detail, and ask what to expect from any medication prescribed.

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They Don't Have Time to Explain the 'Whys'

Doctor looking at his watch

"What I know to be true is that there is so much doctors don't share with their patients, because most doctors don't have enough time with their patients. One thing doctors don't share due to this time limitation, it's the 'why' of the therapies and medications that they prescribe," says Lisa Paladino, MS, RN, CNM, IBCLC, a nurse practitioner in women's health care.

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They Don't Understand Your Insurance Plan—So You Should

Doctor calculator

"Even as a board-certified physician and a graduate of multiple years of medical school and residency, I don't understand insurance plans well and neither do my patients," says Inessa Fishman, MD, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Aviva Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics in Atlanta. "I find that patients often think that having insurance means all their treatments are 'covered in full'; this is certainly not the case for many people. Many of my patients do not understand concepts like copays and deductibles, and do not know the details of these as they pertain to their individual health insurance plans. Understanding one's health insurance plan—and preparing for a specialist visit by finding out which treatments are covered and which are not—would lead to a more effective and less frustrating experience for a patient at the doctor's office."

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They Won't Answer, "What Would You Do"?

Doctor wearing protection mask against covid taking notes during consultation with patient in medical clinic

"Doctors often don't feel comfortable sharing their personal decisions with their patients," says Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG and a medical advisor to ChromaDex. "Oftentimes, doing so might blur the lines between a personal and professional relationship and create a feeling of vulnerability. Take, for example, a birth control method, hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms or undergoing surgery such as hysterectomy—these decisions are fraught with multiple variables which influence a person's decision including medical, cultural, financial, and even religious. In these more complex and thought-provoking cases, one provider really cannot say 'what he/she would do.'" And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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