doctor's office

  1. Your doctor may be a liar

    Ever wonder what's in that manila folder with your name on it?

    Your doctor has one on every patient... and if your doc is like most, he'll never leave you alone in the exam room with yours.

    Turns out that folder might have a lot more than test results, insurance information, and the names of your spouse and children. It might even have a few secrets about your health -- so secret not even you know about them.

    A recent survey of doctors finds they're not always forthcoming with their patients, even if a surprisingly large number are weirdly honest about how often they lie.

    More than half -- 55 percent to be exact -- admit to telling what generously could be called a "white lie." They say they give their patients a more optimistic prognosis than actually warranted.

    I get that. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, and maybe some of them believe positive thinking will help.

    If it ended there, maybe I could live with it. But it gets worse.

    Much worse.

    Nearly a fifth say there's no need to be honest in all situations, and 11 percent say they've lied in the past year to a patient or a patient's parents.

    In addition, just over a third say there's no need to always tell a patient about a medical mistake (y'know, just in case the patient doesn't actually notice). And 20 percent say they've made a mistake they didn't tell the patient about in the past year alone.

    They say they're too afraid of being sued to be honest. I say they're in the wrong line of work.

    Believe it or not, the bad news doesn't end there, either. Nearly 40 percent say there's no need to tell a patient of any financial relationships they have with drug companies or the makers of medical devices.

    In other words, if your doc is prescribing you a new med, don't expect him to come right out and admit that he's being paid to promote it.

    That means it's up to you to ask -- even if it makes you uncomfortable -- and hope he tells you the truth.

    And while you're at it, maybe you should ask for a peek inside that folder, too.

  2. What your Ob-Gyn doesn't want you to know

    You might think medical guidelines are based on years of clinical evidence and gold-standard research. After all, doctors use them every single day to make life-or-death decisions.

    In reality, they're based on the whims and fancies of the medical elite... and that's especially true when it comes to women's health.

    A new study finds that nearly a third of 717 practice recommendations issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are based solely on expert opinions -- with another 38 percent driven by the kind of weak observational studies I'm always warning you to take with a grain of salt.

    All told, just 30 percent of the guidelines obediently followed by 50,000+ ACOG doctors are based on gold-standard clinical trials.

    That's it.

    In other words, there's not a lot of "evidence" in the "evidence-based medicine" touted by the mainstream. But it does help answer some of the questions I've had about ACOG.

    This is, after all, the same group that issued a defiant new call for more frequent mammograms -- despite solid evidence that those screenings have led to the mass overtreatment of benign tumors. (Read about that here.)

    Those guidelines have punished a generation of women with disfiguring mastectomies and toxic radiation -- but as I've told you before, they've barely made a dent in the breast cancer death rate. (Read the story here.)

    ACOG isn't the only group issuing guidelines despite a lack of clinical evidence to back them up: One study earlier this year found that six out of seven guidelines issued by the Infectious Diseases Society of America had no solid research behind them.

    That's why docs were told to pump patients full of antibiotics the moment they even suspected pneumonia in a patient -- a practice that fueled the overuse of the meds and helped breed drug-resistant superbugs... without actually improving outcomes.

    And in even more outrageous cases, guidelines are written under the watchful eye of "experts" with a direct financial stake in the outcome -- like many of those issued by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology between 2003 and 2008. (Read about it here.)

    Put it all together, and the sad reality is that the deck is stacked against you before you even set foot in the doctor's office -- and that's why whenever your doctor gives you a treatment, you need to stop and ask him why before you follow his orders.

    I'll have more on the questions you need to ask during any trip to a doctor later this week.

  3. Dirty docs spread disease

    It's the last place you'd expect to face infection risk -- but it turns out it's the one place you need to be on your guard the most. It's your doctor's office.
  4. The simple test your doc always gets wrong

    The best person to check your blood pressure is you -- and the best place to do it is in the comfort of your own home. Your doctor might have the best technique in the world, but he could still get it wrong every single time -- because his very presence could be causing your BP levels to skyrocket.

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