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Never Say These Things to a Doctor

How to keep doctor-patient etiquette.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Like any successful relationship, the doctor-patient relationship requires good communication. Doctors say that first and foremost, you should always be honest and forthcoming with your physician. But some things you say (or don't say) could get in the way of good care and should be avoided. These are things you should never say to a doctor, according to doctors themselves. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


"So My Friend's Daughter's Boyfriend's Read On The Internet…"

Couple meeting medical specialist at hospital

If you cite some information from the internet in relation to your care, make sure it comes from a reputable source. "Doctors get inundated with theories and references to quick (probably quack) cures, many of which are passed around online," says Dr. Jacob Hascalovici, a neurologist and chief medical officer of Clearing. "To counter that, get your medical information from sites that end in .org or .edu, and let your doctor do the heavy lifting when it comes to diagnostic work."


"I Probably Should've Come To See You Earlier…"

Male doctor advising mature couple about nutritional supplements and using a computer during the appointment.

If you're having symptoms that concern you, don't wait. "While it's better to see the doctor if you're concerned than to avoid medical care altogether, do that sooner rather than later," says Hascalovici. "Don't wait until a little problem turns into a medical monster."

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"I'm Fine."

Couple talking in waiting room

"While it may be socially acceptable to gloss over how you're really doing, the doctor's office is not the place to soft-pedal problems," says Hascalovici. "If you think stress is adding to your medical issues, or if you're embarrassed about something delicate, push through the discomfort to tell your doctor what's really going on. Doctors aren't mind-readers, and you need to squeeze every bit of value from your appointment, so that means being really open and transparent. Believe me, they've heard it all before!"


Anything In This Tone

Aggressive man yelling at nurse in clinic

"Never bring sarcasm into the conversation, as it may get in the doctor's way,"  says Sean Ormond, MD, of Atlas Pain Specialists in Phoenix, Arizona. "The same for Google search results."

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Complaints About Other Doctors

Displeased healthcare worker having an argument and scolding army soldier who is taking pills at doctor's office

"Don't complain about other doctors," says Ormond. "But do give details about the medication and treatment administered by previous doctors."

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"I Smoke Just a Little Marijuana"

Man Smoking On Bright Sunny Day Outdoor

"While we definitely need to know and appreciate a patient's honesty, saying 'I smoke just a little weed' implies THC consumption is harmless," says Edna Ma, MD, a physician anesthesiologist in Los Angeles. "Anesthesiologists need full disclosure of a patient's medication and drug consumption. With the legalization of cannabis, this includes THC and CBD in the forms of ingestibles, vaping, e-cigarettes, and combustible cigarettes."

"When we inquire about a patient's consumption of these medications, we're asking because these drugs will increase the patient's tolerance for our anesthesia medications," says Ma. "Quantification of THC consumption is a matter of patient safety, like obtaining height and weight, not a form of moral judgment. We're happy that you're sharing this information, but please be honest, even if it's just a little cannabis."


"I Don't Have Time"

Couple Attending IVF Consultation

"The thing in our profession that we don't like to hear from patients is that they don't have time, either for treatment or for home care," says Vishal K. Verma, DC, CCSP, a chiropractor with Integrated Healthcare Centers in Virginia. "Saying you don't have time infers that you don't prioritize your health. We are all busy people, but we all need to make time for our physical, mental, and emotional health. Starting the conversation with this excuse is frustrating."


Saying Nothing

Male doctor and his patient shaking hands in the hospital.

Not saying anything during your doctor's appointment can also get in the way of good care. "You probably want to show your doctor respect, or maybe you just forget to bring certain things up during the actual appointment. Things happen fast, and we get it," says Hascalovici. "But you need to extract every bit of goodness from that medical appointment as possible. Come with a list of questions if that'll help. Take notes. Ask questions when you don't understand. If your doctor acts impatient, calmly state that good communication is vital for your care."

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.

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