The vast majority of physicians are smart, caring professionals who do excellent work every day.
But medicine can be an art as much as a science, and doctors often resort to artful deception, whether intentional or not.
Sometime doctors veer from the truth when presented with symptoms that don’t fit into neat textbook explanations. Other times, they do so out of expediency.
“Many times doctors can’t see the big picture – your total health – and only look at the symptoms they are familiar with,” Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., tells Newsmax Health.
Dr. Teitelbaum, author of the bestselling book about medical diagnoses Real Cause, Real Cure, says it’s important to recognize that when a healthcare professional may be dealing in information that is not 100 percent truthful.
Here are common lies doctors tell their patients:
1. “I think this illness is caused by depression or is psychosomatic.”
Dr. Teitelbaum says many patients suffering chronic fatigue syndrome and other difficult-to-diagnose conditions like fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome are handed this line.
2. “Any healthcare professional who is not an M.D. is a quack.”
Doctors are understandably proud of their medical degree, but that doesn’t mean they are the only competent healers. Approximately 30 percent of Americans have sought treatment satisfactorily from alternative physicians.
3. “The more tests we do, the safer you are.”
Unnecessary tests can hurt you by leading to overtreatment and needless costs. Some tests, such as those that use radiation, come with their own set of risk facts. When you’re sent for tests, ask your doctor why he or she recommends them.
4. “There’s no need to change your diet. Just take your medications and you’ll feel better.”
Dr. Teitelbaum notes that there are few health problems that are not improved by a better diet. His recent book, The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction, notes that too much sugar is to blame for many cases of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disease. Excess sugar can also cause fatigue, mood swings, and anxiety.
5. “If you get a second opinion, you don’t trust me.”
A good physician will not be defensive about getting a second opinion and, in fact, will encourage you to get another take on a difficult diagnosis.
6. “You definitely have (insert diagnosis here).”
Statistics show that nearly half of clinicians see diagnostic errors at their practice at least monthly. Always ask if there are other possibilities.
7. “Your baby needs antibiotics to clear up an ear infection.”
Patricia Salber, M.D., a board-certified internist, says that many times a practitioner doesn’t know if a childhood ear infection is bacterial and will respond to antibiotics. It very well may clear up on its own. But Dr. Salber notes that patients often expect to walk out of an appointment with a medicine, so doctors tell them what they want to hear.
8. “I’m putting you on a statin drug because it will lower your risk of a heart attack.”
Often, changes in diet and exercise are more effective than drugs in reducing heart risk.
9. “Don’t worry. I’ve been practicing medicine for 25 years.”
Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that doctors who have been out of medical school for more than 20 years are almost half as likely to stay up-to-date on new medical findings as those who graduated recently
10. “I’ve performed many of these before.”
Don’t settle for a vague response like this before undergoing a procedure. Statistics show that urologists, for example, who perform more than 40 prostatectomies a year have fewer complications than those who perform less than 40.
Ask for the specific yearly number and then find out how this compares to other specialists in your area.
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