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7 Secrets Doctors Don't Want You To Know

What doctors really think about patients.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Ever wonder what your doctor thinks about you? Physicians have plenty to say even if it's not directly to you. While most doctors are professional and polite to your face, there's a lot about patients that irk them. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Eric Ascher, Family Medicine Physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, part of Northwell Health and he revealed how to be a good patient and what doctors aren't telling you. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Show Up 15 Minutes Early to Your Appointment

Five people waiting in waiting room

Dr. Ascher shares, "Whenever you show up to the doctor's office in a post-Covid world, there is always going to be a questionnaire for you to fill out or a set of questions to answer at the front desk. Perhaps there may be a bill that needs to be paid or an insurance or pharmacy change that needs to be updated. This all takes time and can delay the start of your visit. Every delay counts for the busy provider. Showing up early means that you will be on time for your visit."


Patients Can't Be Late, But Doctors Can

Couple meeting medical specialist at hospital

Dr. Ascher reminds us that, "Doctors have so many responsibilities during their day– they see their scheduled patients, they have to take emergency phone calls from patients, patient family members, specialists, insurance companies, and oftentimes the hospital. Doctors also want to give you every moment you deserve when you are in our exam room. We do not enjoy being late but you must understand that if we are late to your visit, it is because we were helping someone through a vulnerable situation and would give you that same courtesy in a heartbeat. It feels like an attack on our character when we are reminded we are late to your visit when we are only trying to help!"


Tell the Truth

Young couple sitting on couch in front of psychologist and listening to her advice at meeting

"When a doctor asks you about your medication compliance, sex life, smoking history, drug use, and alcohol use– it is not because we are being nosy," says Dr. Ascher. "We are trying to ensure your health long term. Whether it is with appropriate counseling or screening, or being able to attribute symptoms to your concerns, telling us the truth will help navigate these situations. Remember, your doctor is not there to judge you!"


Doctors Don't Know Anything About Your Insurance Plan

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.

Dr. Ascher emphasizes, "Medical school and medical training does not cover ANYTHING about insurance. Every insurance plan has multiple sub-plans and co-plans. A doctor will never give advice on insurance because they simply do not know, and terms change so frequently. If you have questions about your terms and what is covered, call your plan prior to your visit. Your provider will make medical decisions based on medical need, not coverage, so if you are unsure about cost or coverage, check with your plan first."

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Don't Expect Doctors to Search for Your Record

woman consulting with female doctor

"If you have records from a hospital, doctors office, or other specialist, do not expect your new doctor or their staff to try to search for your past records," says Dr. Ascher. "It is your responsibility as the patient to know your medical history, have your list of medications, and all pertinent documents (imaging, vaccine records, past tests, etc.) when visiting with your provider."


Don't Argue with Doctors

Aggressive man yelling at nurse in clinic

Dr. Ascher says, "We are here to support you and care for you. Your online research may suggest that you need a work up for a diagnosis or medication that may come with side effects or may not be appropriate for you based on your history, other medications you are currently taking, or potentially a myriad of other factors like blood work. After a minimum of 7 years of school and training, we are educated to consider all aspects of your health. A gentle conversation is always welcomed but fighting with your provider or alluding to posting a negative review online if you do not get your way, will not change your provider's mind."

RELATED: Signs Your Gut is "Unhealthy," Say Physicians


Leave Politics and Religion Outside the Office

woman having serious chat with her doctor

"Do not comment on your doctor's age or looks," Dr. Ascher states. "Your provider went through years of education and is qualified to take care of you. That is what matters most. Do not discuss politics or religion, and do not ask your provider any of the above. In fact, it is important to connect with your provider, but discussing controversial topics can potentially taint the doctor patient relationship. We promote a sense of professionalism in the office and discussing these topics may deviate from your trust in the provider. If the provider says they wish not to discuss this, they are not being rude, they are trying to bring the visit back on track. Also, do not ask your doctor for their personal number or address. This boundary allows for a professional relationship and allows for appropriate distance when out of office."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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