Patients Fear Your Disapproval; Thieves Eye Your Medical Records; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD

Disclosures

December 26, 2014

In This Article

Patients Hide Information to Avoid Your Disapproval

Half of patients have given misleading information to their doctors or have withheld important information in order to avoid being judged or lectured to, says a new report from electronic health record (EHR) selection firm Software Advice.[1] About 37% of patients withhold information about drug, alcohol, or tobacco use; 31% withhold information about their diet; 24% won't reveal information about sexual activity; and about 16% don't disclose information about current medications.

Giving variations of the truth or none at all can have grave consequences in the form of overtreatment or misdiagnosis. According to the survey of 3075 patients by Software Advice:

Half of patients admit to deceiving a doctor or other healthcare professional;

Most patients give misleading information about their drug, alcohol, or tobacco use; and

Dishonest patients typically minimize or hide the truth to avoid feeling judged, lectured, or embarrassed.

To encourage patients to be more forthcoming, experts engaged by Software Advice suggest that doctors:

Ask the right questions and gently press for specifics;

Use positive body language: Make eye contact, smile, and don't appear stern;

Share their own experiences (eg, experiences about quitting smoking or losing weight) to encourage patients to be truthful; and

Be aware of their biases and try to have an open mind; for example, many patients embrace alternative treatments but don't tell their physicians for fear that the treatments won't be accepted.

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