Can Doctors Tell When Patients Shade the Truth?

June 06, 2013

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal health section caught my attention because it focused on an important aspect of the patient-doctor relationship. The article was about patients who leave out facts or are not entirely accurate in the information they share with their doctor.

TheWSJ article — and life experience — tell us it’s human nature to be less than forthcoming about our diet, how much we exercise, if we’ve quit smoking, or, importantly, whether we’ve taken our medication as directed. Some patients play down symptoms, others exaggerate them.

The reasons for shading the truth are many and varied. Patients, naturally, don’t want to be embarrassed or criticized. Some feel they’ll be judged, some fear disappointing their doctor. Sometimes symptoms are downplayed out of fear of an illness, treatment or even going to the hospital.

So the question arises: Can doctors tell? Can they detect anxiety or notice when a patient avoids eye contact?

While I have no formal training in this area, I have a lot of experience listening and talking to patients. Yes, sometimes we can tell.

The important takeaway here is this: It’s always better to tell your doctor the whole truth, as accurately as possible. To do otherwise can lead to serious health problems stemming from diagnostic inaccuracy or the wrong treatment plan.

For doctors at The Urology Group, candor and openness is critical to providing effective care. That may take some courage. In the prevention of prostate cancer for example, it’s crucial for men to face up to the worries and anxieties attendant to digital rectal exams and the PSA test. Lives can be saved.

That brings us to the final question. Do doctors ever shade?

Let me assure you that trust is sacred in the relationship. As doctors, we strive to be both truthful and compassionate in our messaging. We cannot deceive or withhold the truth, but we don’t need to beat folks over the head with their illnesses, either.

Most patients will instinctively lead us as to how much information they are comfortable receiving about their condition. We try to follow their lead while being truthful at the same time.

Recent Featured Blog Posts

  1. The Gentlemen Stakes is Rounding the Bend: What’s New for this Year’s 5K Event

    The Urology Group is on track to present what we think will be our best annual prostate cancer run yet, in part because we’re also going off-track. Our 12th annual 5K event to benefit ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, on Saturday, September 14, has added two new attractions and an alternate route for those who prefer…

    Read More
  2. Medical Care on the Road: 6 Tips for Seeking Urgent Care While Traveling

    The American Cancer Society reports that about one of every 250 males develops testicular cancer during his lifetime.

    Read More
  3. It’s Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: 6 Facts You Should Know

    The American Cancer Society reports that about one of every 250 males develops testicular cancer during his lifetime.

    Read More

Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant

How may I assist you today?

I need help with ‘Directions & Hours’
(Please select a location from the list below)
I need help with ‘ Billing Questions’
(Please select an option below)

I need help with ‘Billing Questions’

What number should I call to pay my bill?

If your bill is from The Urology Group, please call (513) 841-7474 to pay your bill.

If your bill is from The Urology Center, please call (513) 841-7475 to pay your bill.

I need help with ‘Making, Rescheduling or Confirming an Appointment’

If you would like us to call you to set up an appointment, please click here to request a call back.

If you would like to call us, please call
513-841-7400
to speak with a representative.
Our hours are:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am – 5:00pm

I need help with ‘Questions About Test Results’

please call us at:

513-841-7400

Our hours are:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am – 5:00pm

I need help with ‘Medication Refills’

please call us at:

513-841-7400

Our hours are:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am – 5:00pm

I need help with ‘Returning a Call from the Office’

please call us at:

513-841-7400

Our hours are:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am – 5:00pm

I need help with ‘A Copy of My Medical Records’

please call us at:

513-841-7400

Our hours are:

Monday-Friday: 7:30am – 5:00pm