With health scares in the headlines daily, there's a good chance you've needed to see your doctor this past year. And chances are, they've been honest with you about your health, and the COVID-19 vaccine (ask them about it if you're still unvaccinated!). But what aren't they telling you? We asked some top doctors about what they're keeping from you. Read on for the answers—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
They Can Tell When You're Lying
"You'd be surprised at how frequently patients come to the ER and decide not to tell us important details pertaining to their case," says Dr. Rachel Shively, MD, an Emergency Medicine physician and Toxicologist practicing in New York. "Plus we can tell when you're lying. With lying, it is usually because they are embarrassed or nervous that we won't give them the same care if they are upfront about things they do that might be disadvantageous to their health—such as drug use or not being compliant with their medications. Which is totally not true—we certainly don't judge—but is sad. Things like what you took, or the mechanism of your injury, are important things to tell us."
They Don't Love it When You Exaggerate
"Sometimes people will lie about the severity of their symptoms or add symptoms because they think—or have been told—that doctors won't take them seriously unless they have '10 out 10' pain," says Dr. Shively. "This is also unfounded but with them I always wonder what happened to them in prior medical experiences that made them think that way and also why that seems to be a pervasive thought in certain communities. Same goes for threatening to sue if you don't get what you want."
They Get Frustrated if You're Not There For the Right Reasons
"I don't work in a clinic, so I don't deal with cancellations, but occasionally we do get people who are opiate-seeking or seeking to be admitted to the hospital for social reasons. Those people are frustrating as they inappropriately use resources causing people with legitimate concerns longer wait times—plus they can become violent with medical staff which is clearly unsafe for everyone," says Dr. Shively. "But, usually, they have unfortunate reasons for doing so—like homelessness and mental illness—so we try to have compassion about it."
They Don't Understand Your Insurance Plan So You Better
"Even as a board-certified physician and a graduate of multiple years of medical school and residency, I don't understand insurance plans well and neither do my patients," says Inessa Fishman, MD, a Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Aviva Plastic Surgery&Aesthetics. "I find that patients often think that having insurance means all their treatments are 'covered in full'; this is certainly not the case for many people. Many of my patients do not understand concepts like copays and deductibles, and do not know the details of these as they pertain to their individual health insurance plans. This isn't a secret per se, but I do think that understanding one's health insurance plan—and preparing for a specialist visit by finding out which treatments are covered and which are not—would lead to a more effective and less frustrating experience for a patient at the doctor's office."
They Won't Insert Their Personal Opinions
"I tend to withhold personal opinions with patients," says Dr. Erica Steele, DNM ND CFMP BCND of Holistic Family Practice. "A patient may be on the fence about huge topics such as immunizations, abortion, etc., and my job is to be a biased objective healthcare perspective simply weighing the pros and cons for various healthcare scenarios. It is not my job to place blame, judgement, or sway my patients in any direction. Ultimately, I respect a person's right to choose their own healthcare decisions therefore will only provide the facts as I see them, nothing more."
They Won't Share Their Religious Beliefs
"I withhold my religious/spiritual beliefs," says Steele. "I treat in Virginia, a Bible Belt state, and am often asked questions about my religious beliefs. Although I think it is very important to have a provider you can trust, I also think that sometimes it is rather invasive to be asked personal questions regarding your spiritual beliefs. Although I have a strong spiritual background, I often do not feel my healthcare practice is often the place to express those views, especially when I am fearful of saying the wrong thing or the right thing."
They Won't Share Their Age
"I am young, and I also look younger than I am, however I am extremely intelligent—remember Doogie Howser?" says Dr. Steele. "I tend to blow people away with my knowledge and insight, but also look very young which leaves people curious. I am often asked my age and become reluctant to answer as I become concerned that my opinion will not be taken as seriously as my twenty-year counter parts. Although age may be a factor in some things, cutting healthcare knowledge is found in the younger healthcare teams." As for yourself, avoid having to go to the doctor's and don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.