What You Should Know: Lies in the Patient-Doctor Relationship

What You Should Know is an ongoing series covering a range of informational topics relevant to current and future healthcare professionals.
It happens to every medical student sooner or later – the realization that their patient has lied to them. Especially for students, who are just beginning to gain clinical experience, this realization can come as a shock. A sense of betrayal, anger or even the desire for retribution can set in, all of which can be damaging to the doctor-patient relationship.
These emotions aside, it might help student doctors dealing with the nature of this reality to understand where deception enters into the therapeutic relationship – as well as how and why people lie in a clinical setting and what the doctor can do about it.

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A Call For Compassionate Doctors

compassionate doctors

Remember—actions speak louder than words, kindness counts

By Mary Calhoun

I had been terribly sick for three months before finally going to the doctor. It felt as though I had the flu and just couldn’t shake it. The doctor did the necessary tests and told me he thought I had lupus. Since one of his patients had just died from the disease, he wanted me to see another doctor; he could not have picked a better one.

The rheumatologist I saw a week later did a ton of lab work on me, but not before asking a boat load of questions and attentively recording every word. I noticed the concern in his voice and wondered if I should be worried. When I returned a week later, the doctor walked in with solutions to how we would kick the monster.

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Judgement in Medicine

“Only God can judge me.” Tupac Shakur rapped these famous lyrics in his All Eyez on Me Album in 1996. Although this song stands far removed from the field of medicine, the statement “only God can judge me” is a reflection of one of our modern culture’s values: we simply do not like being judged.
This truth seems to resonate particularly in clinics and hospitals throughout the US. Physicians see patients of all different colors, shapes, and sizes and many of these patients enter into clinics with emotional wounds inflicted from previous physicians’ lack of judgmental tact. These patients have been negatively looked upon because of their skin color, weight, gender and countless other reasons resulting in an understandable defensiveness towards any medical professional. In addition, a fair number of patients, myself included, while not completely jaded, have had significant negative experiences with doctors. One of the most dangerous pathologies identified in a doctor’s office, ironically has nothing to do with actual “medicine”. What hurts the most is diagnosing the prejudice influencing our physicians’ health care.

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