Why it’s important to be Honest with your Doctor

By Ashton Miller

One-on-one conversations with your doctor can be extremely personal. Some people avoid bringing up uncomfortable topics because they don’t want to feel judged or embarrassed. Others aren’t completely honest when speaking with their doctor.

But communication is critical in building a strong relationship with your provider. Dr. David Lee of Novant Health Village Point Family Medicine in Clemmons described an ideal relationship with patients as one with open and honest communication.

“Just like in any relationship, there has to be trust between patients and their physician,” Lee said. “Patients should feel free to tell their physician whatever is bothering them so we can get to the cause of the problem and provide the proper treatment.”

Lee noted it’s important for a provider to have a clear picture of a patient’s health. When patients leave out information, it can lead to less-than-optimum care or could even have harmful consequences. Lee said it’s equally important for patients to share all the medications they are using, including over-the-counter drugs, supplements and vitamins, because there could be potential interactions with other medications. Lee recommends patients bring a list of all their medications and supplements to each appointment.

Go Ahead and Ask

Lee suggested that patients ask and understand the answers to the following three questions when meeting with their doctor:

What is my main problem?

What do I need to do?

Why is it important for me to do this?

If patients understand why the treatment is helpful or why the doctor is asking them to do something differently, they are much more likely to comply, he said. He also said these questions can help guide the conversation if a patient is unsure where to begin.

Here are some additional tips to consider for your next appointment:

Try to get over being embarrassed. “As physicians, we are trained to deal with anything and everything,” Lee said. “I can guarantee we’ve heard just about everything, so there is really nothing a patient should be embarrassed about talking over with us. And everything said in a patient room remains confidential.”

Be honest. “Getting all the information is key to helping our patients,” he said. “It’s important for patients to mention everything that is going on with their health so we can provide the best treatment.”

Bring something to take notes with. “Sometimes there is a lot of information to take in,” Lee said. “It may be helpful to bring a pen and paper and write down what we say so you can remember it later.”

Come with questions. “I encourage my patients to write down their symptoms as they experience them and bring in a list to talk about during their appointment,” Lee said. “That way, we can work through the list together over time.”

Email your doctor. “You may think of a question after you leave the office,” Lee said. “Instead of trying to remember to bring it up next time, you can email your physician through MyChart, Novant Health’s online health management tool.”


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