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Never Do This at Your Doctor's Office, Say Experts

These things stress your doctor out—don’t do them!

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the already stressful work of health professionals significantly more difficult: According to a survey by the American Medical Association, physicians, nursing assistants, medical assistants, social workers, inpatient workers, and more are suffering from work overload (43%), burnout (49%), anxiety and depression (38%), and fear of exposing themselves or their families to COVID (61%). In order to support healthcare workers, here are things you should never do at your doctor's office. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs COVID is Hurting You—Even After a Negative Test.


Never Turn Up Without a Mask

woman in a medical mask on her face during the pandemic outdoors

One of the easiest ways to support and protect medical staff is to wear a clean N95/K95 mask that fully covers your nose and mouth. "A mask is just about keeping yourself safe, keeping your family members safe, keeping your loved ones safe and keeping our community safe," says Meena Davuluri, MD, MPH, a urologist and health outcomes fellow at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "That's really what the mask is all about. It's not impinging on anyone's freedom or their rights. The only thing we really know is the best way to prevent this disease is by wearing a mask."

"One of the things that I'd like to see is more people covering their entire nose and mouth," says Pratistha Koirala, MD, Ph.D. "I see many people who just cover their mouth and they don't cover their nose, and that is just not going to be as effective in terms of protecting themselves."

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Never Lie About Your Health

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

When you mislead your doctor or leave out important information, not only are you wasting both your own time and theirs but you're also potentially sabotaging your own health. "When patients downplay or exaggerate symptoms, lifestyle choices, pain level, or side effects, they usually don't realize that it can affect their quality of life—and the quality of the treatment that they receive," says former Air Force Flight Surgeon Ryan Gray, MD. "Lying can also be dangerous, as it could cause potential medication overdoses or interactions. Dr. House"—from the TV show—"may say that all patients lie, but I think they sometimes just don't see the harm in not telling you something."

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Never Complain About Other Doctors

Serious doctor listening to patient explaining her painful in his office

Complaining about other doctors only distracts from what you're there for: To talk about you, and what's best for your health. "When patients complain about other doctors, it usually throws up huge red flags that say, 'THIS PATIENT IS DIFFICULT (and may try to sue me someday).' At best, it will make the doctor walk on eggshells. At worst, it will cause the doctor to try to avoid the complaining patient," says Dr. Gray.

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Never Be Rude or Aggressive

patient is angry on doctor because of medical error

Having one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong? Don't take it out on your doctor. "Although most people realize that doctors are regular people, too, some believe that doctors are never allowed to make mistakes," says Dr. Gray. "Patients need to realize that doctors are their partners, and getting belligerent or nasty will only harm the relationship."

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Never Be Consistently Late

Woman check her watch.

Sometimes things happen beyond our control and being late is the result—but if you're the type of person who is consistently late, it shows lack of consideration for your doctor and other patients. "For patients who are late every single time, some sort of consequence needs to take place," says Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP. "Otherwise, it will continue to happen over and over. It's just not fair or respectful to the patients who do come in on time to their scheduled appointment to be seen late because of one person's lack of respect for anyone else's time. Patients might even leave a practice if they are always seen late, no matter what the cause."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Female patient smiling behind the face mask and with her eyes, while getting flu shot

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to live your healthiest life, don't miss this life-saving advice I'm a Doctor and Here's the #1 Sign You Have Cancer.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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