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

Your doctor would love for you to stop doing these things.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Doctors and other health professionals have always had to deal with work-related stress, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made things significantly more challenging. "Most patients are well-meaning and generally nice. But every now and then, you will get one who is a total pain to deal with," says Ryan Gray, MD. "We've all been there. With some of the primary care docs seeing 24-30 patients a day, the number of difficult patients can add up every day and every week. It's no wonder why burnout rates are so high! When patients say certain things to doctors, it can jeopardize the patient's health, make treatments less effective, and ruin the doctor-patient relationship." Here are five things you should never do in your doctor's office. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Never Ignore Mask Rules

Woman getting vaccinated.

If your doctor's office has mandatory mask rules, respect them. "Now, more than ever, we need to decrease the transmission of COVID-19," says Louito Edje, MD, a family physician and associate dean of graduate medical education at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. "Omicron is the most contagious of the variants, so far. It is three times higher than that of the Delta variant and the second most contagious virus known to man, only second to measles. This is the reason that N95s are recommended for use by the general public. N95 masks offer the highest level of protection because they protect against both large and small particles rather than just large particles."


Don't Be Consistently Late

couple listening to doctor in his office

Sometimes, being late can't be avoided—life happens! But a consistent disregard for punctuality not only shows disrespect for your doctor, it also negatively impacts other patients. "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," says Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP. "Patients might even leave a practice if they are always seen late, no matter what the cause."


Don't Demand Specific Prescriptions

Patient refusing to use medication

"For me, what is most frustrating is when patients view doctors as simply a source of a signature for something they want, without really wanting the physician's guidance or opinion," says Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "I don't mind when patients do their own research on the Internet; I actually value it, as long as their purpose is to be informed so they can engage in complex discussions and decision-making."

RELATED: How an "Unhealthy" Gut Impacts Your Health, According to Experts


Don't Lie About Your Health

Shot of woman nutritionist doctor writes the medical prescription for a correct diet on a desk with fruits, pills and supplements.

Lying about your health, symptoms, or supplements you are taking is a waste of everyone's time at best, and downright dangerous at worst. "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 Dr. Gray. "Lying can also be dangerous, as it could cause potential medication overdoses or interactions. Dr. House may say that all patients lie, but I think they sometimes just don't see the harm in not telling you something."

RELATED: What an Unhealthy Gut Feels Like, According to Experts


Check the Aggression At the Door

Aggressive man yelling at nurse in clinic

Being rude or aggressive to your doctor is unacceptable, and studies show it can impact the quality of care you receive. "[Rudeness] is actually affecting the cognitive system, which directly affects your ability to perform," says Amir Erez, Ph.D. "That tells us something very interesting. People may think that doctors should just 'get over' the insult and continue doing their job. However, the study shows that even if doctors have the best intentions in mind, as they usually do, they cannot get over rudeness because it interferes with their cognitive functioning without an ability to control it."

RELATED: Sure Signs You're Getting Dementia, According to Science


How to Stay Safe Out There


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 protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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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