You probably carry a long checklist of items to discuss with your doctor at the next visit, and that’s a good thing. However, there are a few things that shouldn’t be on your list. These are the things that doctors hate to hear, and things that can make the appointment rather tense and stressful. Maybe you don’t need to say these things at all, or maybe you need to phrase them differently.
“I’m sorry I wasted your time” or “This is a waste of time”
When you say this, you make the doctor feel like the doctor visit is not important and that what you’re also saying is that it is a waste of YOUR time. No professional wants to hear this. Think about yourself in the same situation. People are conditioned to feel the need to leave an appointment with a diagnosis that something is wrong with you. Just remember that it’s perfectly fine to leave with a clean bill of health too! It’s better to err on the side of caution and get symptoms checked. You might feel silly that the chest pain you thought was a heart attack turned out to only be heartburn, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Have you ever heard a doctor say “This visit was a waste of time?” Probably not.
“It’s probably just stress” or “It’s probably all in my head”
Stress can cause symptoms, and stress can make many conditions much worse, but don’t downplay your symptoms or diagnose yourself. Let the doctor do that.
For example, maybe you have a headache. Certainly it might turn out to be a tension headache or one caused by anxiety or stress, but let the doctor be the judge. Headaches and pain are a signal that something is wrong in your body.
“I already know what’s wrong with me” or “I’m sure it’s this because I saw it online”
This may be the thing doctors hate to hear the most. No doctor wants to think that Google can outperform their 12 years of medical school. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to most doctors when they hear “I read about symptoms online, and so I know what’s wrong with me.”
First, there is a lot of misinformation online. Second, the sheer volume of information can scare you with all the things that might be wrong with you. You actually might be making your doctor’s job harder because you’re mixing the true symptoms you’re feeling with what you read. Doctors follow a protocol to diagnose symptoms, so inserting a self-diagnosis in there can really complicate matters. During your visit, report the symptoms you actually have, and don’t draw conclusions. If you’ve done online research, keep it to yourself!
“Aren’t you the expert?” or “Surely you’ve heard of this” or “Are you sure you’re a doctor”?
Your doctor is an expert but they may not have heard of every new medication or read every article. With the new age of pharmaceutical advertising that says “Ask your doctor if this new med is right for you”, doctors are seeing lots more patients who are asking about new medications and procedures. It is perfectly fine to ask your doctor about these new treatments or to bring in an article for him or her to read, but don’t become flabbergasted if they’re not an instant expert in every new drug you see on TV. Doctors don’t have the time, but rest assured that if there is a new drug that might help you, your doctor will do the research to see if it is right for you. Doctors actually appreciate when you bring in articles or drug ads because it gets the info quickly into their hands so if they don’t know about it, they can begin the research. Doctors are human—they haven’t read every article, but put your faith in them to diagnose and treat you properly.
Just remember, like most things in life, the relationship that you and your doctor have is a balance. Certainly you need to be an advocate for your own health, and doctors should respect your role and your input. On the other hand, the doctor is the professional that deserves your respect. If you feel that your doctor is not the right fit, you can always get a new doctor, but mutual respect is the key to this—or any—relationship.
~ Health Scams Exposed