Editorial

To stay healthy, start by being completely honest with your doctor

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dr. John Cullen of Valdez, Alaska, felt like something was a little off with one of his patients.

Cullen, who has 25 years of experience, was about to take a patient to the operating room to remove his appendix when he asked one last question:

ďWeíre about to cut you open here. Are you sure you donít want to tell me anything else?Ē

As it turns out, yes, he did.

It seems methamphetamine can sometimes cause a patient to exhibit all the same signs as a ruptured appendix.

Because of the last-minute admission, Cullenís patient avoided the risks always associated with abdominal surgery and was presumably diverted to another, less physically invasive type of treatment.

Unfortunately, Cullenís experience is more of a rule rather than the exception.

A new study from the University of Utah indicates that as many as four of five Americans withhold important information from their doctors that could be crucial to their health.

"Doctors aren't dumb. We know patients lie," explains Dr. Jacob Rosenstein, a neurosurgeon and anti-aging expert in Dallas. "I usually take what a patient says and double or triple it. If a patient says they only have one drink a day, it's probably two or three. The blood work doesn't lie. We can almost always see what's really going on. But doctors shouldn't have to play detective. Patients need to trust their doctor and simply tell the truth as if their life depended on it. And in many cases, it does."

Patients are too ashamed to fess up to their bad behavior, and are also afraid of the consequences if they do, the Utah researchers found.

We also have to wonder how much the turmoil surrounding medical insurance has to play in the results of the study. Patients who are not afraid of losing medical coverage are bound to be more truthful with their health care provider, it seems to us.

Others may not want to admit they disagree with their doctor or donít understand what the doctor has told them.

But that 60 to 80 percent of us who lie to our doctors to avoid a lecture are endangering our health through drug interactions or preventing compliance with better treatment plans.

Americans pay a lot for good healthcare; we need to give it every chance to maintain and improve our health. Being completely honest with our healthcare providers is a good first start.

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