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The Worst Thing You Can Do at the Doctor's Office

The doctor-patient relationship is as important as any other relationship in your life.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The doctor-patient relationship is as important as any other relationship in your life, and just like any other relationship, a good one thrives on quality communication—not too much, not too little, and not about the wrong things. What's the best to make sure you and your doctor get and stay on the right track? Avoid this, the worst thing you can do at the 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 You've Already Had COVID.

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The Worst Thing You Can Do at the Doctor's Office

Doctors are pretty much in agreement: Do your research, be involved in your care, but don't let Dr. Google—also known as self-diagnosis—override the professional in front of you. Consult the internet to educate yourself, but don't come in having diagnosed yourself, says Suzanne Koven, a primary care internist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "I have enormous respect for patients' autonomy and understanding of their own bodies, and to some extent, doctors are working with patients in a collaboration," she told Scientific American. "But to pretend that both parties are bringing the identical degree of information to the table is disingenuous. Once in a while, somebody will come in determined that they need an MRI to rule out such and such or this drug to treat such and such, and I'll have to say, 'Whoa, slow down, let's talk about you and your symptoms.'" 

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Make Sure Your Information Is Legit

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And make sure the information you're bringing to the doctor's office is reputable. "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."

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Excessive Googling Can Cause Unnecessary Anxiety

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"If you're spending hours digging through the dark corners of the internet, you're doing yourself a disservice. Often, the nonspecific information available online can lead patients to believe a small problem is something far more dire," said Dr. Darla Klokeid, a Seattle-based physician with One Medical. 

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Want to Research? Ask Your Doctor For Leads

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"That said, there are studies that recommend patients research ahead of time in order to help point their provider in the right direction," said Klokeid. " t doesn't need to be excessive — if you spend 15 minutes educating yourself on treatment options or clarifying specific symptoms ahead of the visit, that's completely adequate." She suggests asking your doctor to recommend good resources for research, and she happily does so for her patients.

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Dr. Instagram Can Also Annoy

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And remember that just because someone you follow is using a medication or product doesn't mean it's right for you.  "My field of medicine perhaps lends itself most widely to research done on Instagram and TikTok before a patient's visit," says Noreen Galaria, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Northern Virginia. She advises never saying things like, "On Instagram, I read that I actually shouldn't be using this prescription" or "There's an influencer I follow that says never to use that."

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 whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more
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