Have you ever lied to your doctor? Even a little “white lie”? Perhaps fibbed about how much you drink or exercise, or how healthily you eat? As harmless as they may seem, doctors say those little white lies can lead to serious health risks, including misdiagnosis.
ABC News reports that according to Dr. Particia Allen, sometimes it is exactly those answers that doctors are most interested in.
“The areas that are of most concern are both lifestyle and drugs and alcohol that the patient may be using,” she said. “So many drugs — herbal, over the counter, other prescription or social drug use — can all have a significant impact on drugs that your doctor may want to prescribe you.”
Nurses Audra Giard and Jennifer Ensminger have heard it all.
“From the number of sexual partners to, ‘yes, you know, I’ve never had an STD. I’ve never had an abortion,” Giard told “Good Morning America.”
They both agree that many patients are just trying to save face.
“[There are] some things you may not be proud of,” Ensminger said. “You want to put your best foot forward.”
Dr. Allen said many men will not report a shortness of breath or chest pains because they do not “want the diagnosis of some sort of serious problem.”
According to ABC News medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard, patients will also sometimes lie for financial reasons.
“Sometimes we’re embarrassed to admit that we can’t afford all these medications,” she said.
Rather than telling their doctor, many patients make their own medical determinations. Savard said that some patients may take a medication that was prescribed for everyday use and only take it every other day to save cash.
The problem is, she said, that doctors could misinterpret the medication’s effectiveness and prescribe more, which could be dangerous.
“The message to remember is to be comfortable enough with your doctor to say ‘I can’t afford this medication,'” Savard said. “Doctors have choices, but if you don’t tell them what your challenges are, then they can’t know.”
“It’s your health that’s on the line,” she said. “It’s your life that’s at stake.”