patients

  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. The patient made me do it!

    CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds -- you name it, people are getting them far more often than necessary, leading to extra stress and excess treatments.

    And in the case of those CT scans and X-rays, patients are being dosed with high levels of radiation for no reason at all.

    Well, docs now say they've noticed all this too -- and they've come up with a novel justification for it: The patients are making them do it!

    It's as if a patient might walk in with a gun and say, "doc, I have a headache -- give me a brain scan and give it to me right now… OR ELSE."

    Obviously, that's not happening… but a new survey finds that many doctors are basically afraid of their own patients -- and that's why they're ordering up all those tests.

    Researchers say their survey of 627 family physicians and internists finds that 42 percent believe their patients are getting too much medical care -- but say they have to go along with it… because 80 percent believe they'll be sued if they don't test the hell out of their patients.

    They have a point, to a certain extent. Many patients do walk in demanding meds, tests or both.

    But whatever happened to "just say no?"

    I think I know what happened to it, and it has nothing to do with lawsuits: "No" vanished when docs realized they could buy their own testing equipment and double-dip on their patients, collecting fees and co-pays for the office visit as well as the extra bucks for all those unnecessary tests.

    Some of them even admit it -- three percent of the doctors who took the survey said money influenced their decisions to order up all those extra tests.

    I'm sure the real number is much higher, and many of the docs in the survey even admitted that as well… sort of: Thirty-nine percent say OTHER doctors would cut back on those tests and scans if they didn't stand to gain extra money from them.

    In other words, "I'm honest -- but those other guys are crooks."

    No wonder the healthcare system is a wreck.

  3. Dirty docs don't wash hands

    Doctors are so smart most of them must've skipped a grade -- and that grade was probably kindergarten. How else can you explain the fact that they still haven't figured out how to wash their hands?
  4. Robots put to work

    Here's what I think of when I picture a hospital pulling the wrapper off a shiny new surgical robot, like the ones commonly used to perform prostate surgeries: A kid getting a pair of skis in July...Same goes for those hospitals -- because a new study confirms that the first response isn't "how can we use this machine best?" It's "how quickly can we put this thing to work -- and how many patients can we use it on?"
  5. Ignorance isn't bliss when it comes to doctor's appointments

    A University of Michigan study that looked at how 3,000 patients made decisions about their health found most of them to be badly informed.

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