Study Says Your Doctor May Not Always Tell You The Whole Truth

The doctor-patient relationship can be a complicated one, as it often occurs at a stressful and busy time for the doctor and the patient. Doctors are human like everyone else and therefore have the same emotions and frailties. Just like in any other human-to-human relationship, there is sometimes a temptation to lie or keep secrets.

A recent survey highlighted the fact that not all doctors believe that being honest and forthright with their patients is the best course of action. The survey, published in Health Affairs, asked 2,000 physicians nationwide about how honest they are with their patients' prognosis and about medical mistakes. The survey discovered that many physicians are not above keeping secrets or lying in some cases.

Although about two-thirds of doctors said that they should disclose serious medical errors with their patients, 34 percent disagreed. In addition, approximately two-fifths of doctors said that it was not necessary to share their financial relationship with drug companies with their patients.

Shockingly, 55 percent of physicians said that they often or sometimes describe a patient's prognosis in a more optimistic and positive manner than is warranted under the circumstances. Additionally, 10 percent of doctors said that they told their patients something that was untrue within the past year.

Reasons For Lying

The survey did not ask the doctors why they lied, but experts say there are many reasons why doctors lie. Physicians often lie because a medical error was made and they think it will protect them from a medical malpractice lawsuit. In reality, the lie often makes things worse, as patients are often more likely to sue doctors who are not open about their mistakes.

Medical experts say that many physicians are not completely truthful about a patient's prognosis because they are often poor communicators. As medical explanations require defining complicated conditions and disorders, physicians often find it easier to avoid speaking about it or to simplify the explanation to the point of not entirely honest.

Consult An Attorney

Although there may be noble or well-meaning reasons supporting the decision to mislead their patients, the fact of the matter is that physician mendacity often compromises patient care. Such lies often lead to a missed or delayed diagnosis, which often puts the patient in a worse state than he or she would have been in but for the lie. At the very least, physician lies usurp the patient's right to make his or her own medical decisions.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been harmed by a missed or delayed diagnosis, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn about your right to compensation.