Study finds MDs not always honest with patients
A survey was conducted to establish if doctors lie, and about what. The biggest issue doctors are found to lie about is in telling a terminal patient that things are not as bad as the prognosis actually is. More than half the doctors surveyed admitted to doing this. Some of the other non-truths that doctors admitted to were:
- Using placebos
- Not admitting to mistakes made (for fear of malpractice litigation)
- Risks of treatment(s) not disclosed
- Exaggeration of a patients condition to scare them into better health/behavior choices
- Running more tests than necessary to delay telling the patient about a poor prognosis
Not all of the findings are negative, however. Many of the falsehoods stem from the doctors caring about the patients -- even thought the majority of people would prefer to know the truth immediately, no matter how bleak. Also, telling lies is becoming more challenging for doctors as professional standards call for honesty.
In addition, many practices require a doctor to apologize for mistakes that have been made. The internet has put much information at the fingertips of patients as to make it difficult for doctors to hide details of certain diseases or conditions. The patients are armed with knowing what to expect in advance of their appointments. And the last thing making it harder for doctors to tell lies is the fact that many practices are now making their patients’ medical records available online.