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  • Dr. Tania Dempsey MD

Why it is important to tell your doctor the truth


The patient-doctor relationship is based on trust. Patients need to be able to trust that their doctor has their best interest at heart and doctors need to be able to trust that their patients have been forthcoming with their history. Without this two way street of respect, the relationship breaks down. Doctors are charged with the responsibility to accurately diagnose and treat their patients, but without reliable information from the patient, they cannot do their job and it is the patient that is ultimately hurt.

Here are the top 3 things to be honest with your doctor about

1. The natural supplements you are taking. Patients are often embarrassed to admit to their doctor that they are taking over the counter vitamins, supplements and herbs because they think that their doctor will scold them for believing in natural remedies. The truth is that many doctors believe that vitamins are important for patients with vitamin deficiencies. Unfortunately, there can be interactions between certain vitamins or herbs and prescription medication. These interactions could lead to higher or lower levels of the medication they are taking, which could greatly impact their health. It is crucial for patients to be upfront about everything they are taking.

2. Your diet. Studies have shown that patients underestimate how much they are eating and how often they indulge in unhealthy food. Many patients don't want to admit the difficulties they have with complying with the prescribed diet so it is easier for them to deny that they are eating anything "bad.” The problem is that if they are not truthful to the doctor then the doctor can't help them succeed. If I think that the diet intervention isn't working as expected, I will question why and then I might have to resort to more aggressive treatment options. If patients admit to their indiscretions, then doctors can work with the patient to develop strategies to keep their diet on track.

3. Your use of recreational drugs. There is a growing drug problem in this country and doctors are being kept in the dark by their patients. Patients don't want to admit to their drug use because they don't want that information to become part of their medical record. They fear that it could affect their insurance policy or their employment. Marijuana, for instance, which has less of a stigma in recent times due to government policy changes, has a negative effect on the brain. It has been shown to cause issues with concentration and memory and even mood disorders, like depression and psychosis. If the patient is not truthful with their doctor, the patient might get treated unnecessarily with powerful psychiatric drugs to combat these neuropsychiatric symptoms when all that might be needed is stopping the recreational drug. In addition, smoking marijuana and other drugs is harmful to the lungs and doctors need to know this in order to screen patients appropriately. There are many other potential side effects of drug use so it is dangerous for you to be treated in the medical system without a doctor's knowledge of this part of your history.

*For my full interview on this topic with Readers Digest, click here

#doctor #patient #health #wellness #trust