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Six Annoying Things Doctors Tell Their Patients

What is the most annoying thing your doctor does or says?  I’m sure there is something that immediately jumps to your mind, even if it is from a previous doctor, we have all had that moment when we clench our jaw with outrage or indignation at something our physician has said or done.  Mine is easy, and happens to be the first on this list I found: “Just try to stay off your feet.”  I broke a toe (fourth toe of my left foot) and after 4 hours in the ER waiting for an x-ray, and 2 more hours waiting for the doctor, his advice was just that.  I asked 3 times if I should wrap my toe, wear a cast, or use a crutch, and he said no, to just stay on the couch for about 4 months.  I was furious that he wasn’t hearing me.  I had a 25 minute walk to the train, every day, followed by 45 minutes (usually standing) on the train only to walk another 10 minutes to work, where I was on my feet all day, then made the trip home.  On a good day, I was on my couch for an hour before bed.  I knew my patience was thin at that point and thanked him for his help, but inside I was just screaming.  I got more help from Google than from my doctor on caring for my toe and eventually got a Physician’s Assistant to offer up the advice of a soft-cast. 

How about you?  Is there anything on this list that brings back an annoying memory?  Is there something missing from this list that should be included?  Share your comments!!

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1. “Try to stay off your feet.”
Sure, this makes sense when your walking could exacerbate a preexisting condition, and in such cases, crutches or perhaps even a wheelchair could be necessary. However, in less serious cases—especially when a long period of rest is prescribed—it just isn’t a realistic option. Unless you want to go on disability, you’re probably going to have to get back on your feet at some point if you want to work. Usually we go to the doctor to find out how we can get back to being mobile and active, not to be told that we should lie down all day.

We heard another version of this statement from someone who recently underwent Lasik surgery. When problems arose, she was told she shouldn’t look at a computer screen for long periods of time. Too bad she’s an editor who sits in a cubicle all day; unless she feels like looking for a new career, she can’t follow those orders.

2. “This won’t hurt a bit.”
Usually, this line is used right before a sharp object is inserted into your arm or electric shocks are sent through your body. Notice that doctors never say this before using a tongue depressor or a stethoscope.


3. “Are you sexually active?”
Not only is this question awkward for the patient to answer, it’s incredibly vague. There’s also a big difference in health risks for a person who’s monogamous and for one who has several sexual partners. It also doesn’t take into account whether or not protection is used and what type of protection. While questions about sexual practices are often necessary, something about the wording of this particular question makes your doctor sound like an out-of-touch health teacher.

4. “We’re just about done.”
Usually this is said during an especially uncomfortable procedure. On the surface it isn’t a problematic phrase (you’d think it would be good news, actually), except it usually seems like doctors say this halfway through a series of shots or a painful test—not a time when the person going through these procedures would consider to be anywhere near the end. Clearly it’s a way to pacify a patient who’s obviously in pain and to give him or her a light at the end of the tunnel to focus on. But if there’s still plenty of pain left to endure after hearing this phrase from your physician, it can be extremely frustrating.

5. “We’ll need to see you again in a couple days for some tests.”
Usually the patient’s internal response to this statement is something like, “Wait, couldn’t these tests have been scheduled for today’s visit? I have to come back again?” While doctors are never asked to take time away from work to visit you again and again in your office, they sometimes forget that patients have lives—and jobs. Getting time off work repeatedly within a short timeframe can be difficult, especially if your manager is strict about paid time off or suspects that your doctor’s appointments aren’t legitimate.

6. “I just got some samples of a drug that might work for you.”
Most of the time, this is a harmless statement and the drug in question will help make you better. However, when you realize that your doctor is holding a pen with the drug’s name on it, which he uses to write down the prescription on a notepad with the same drug’s name, his or her motives can seem suspicious.

-From Divine Caroline

When you really can’t shake the feeling that your doctor isn’t the right one for you, think about using MediBid to find a new physician.

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