“A Stethoscope Is Not A Mind Reading Device!”
Most patients withhold vital information from their doctors according to a study recently released in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Even when people understand how important it is to share critical information about medications, lifestyle, and symptoms, most people in the study survey didn’t tell their doctors about at least one of the seven types of important information including:
- They disagree with the doctor’s recommendation
- They don’t understand the doctor’s instructions
- They aren’t taking the medications the doctor prescribed (or aren’t taking it as instructed)
- What other medications they are taking (deliberately not mentioning the medication)
- Whether they take a medication prescribed for someone else
- They aren’t exercising
- They have a poor diet
Why are patients keeping doctors in the dark?
The vast majority of patients didn’t share information with their doctor because they did not want to be judged.
This is understandable.
None of us wants to be lectured about our diet or told to be more active, even though we know both of those things are important to our health. Many people don’t want to know how harmful their choices are to their health.
I think, however, there is something more important at play.
Most of us don’t feel comfortable telling doctors we disagree with them. Unfortunately, we can only get the best treatment when we fully participate in our own care. As I like to say: A stethoscope is not a mind reading device! We have to partner with our health care providers.
For example, finding the right medication may take a couple of tries. If you are experiencing side effects, or don’t find a medication helpful, it is important to talk with your doctor about other options, a different dose, or a taking the medication at a different time of day.
One of the most helpful strategies to open up a conversation with your health care provider is to keep a log of symptoms, side effects, etc to provide examples of what you are experiencing. I often go into an appointment with a list of the 2 or 3 questions I need answered. It is easy to get side-tracked and forget what I wanted to discuss.