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How to keep your doctor honest

Doctor error isn't the only thing patients in Queens, New York, have to worry about anymore. According to a recent survey published by Health Affairs, doctors are not always honest with their patients. More than 2,000 physicians surveyed nationwide confessed to not disclosing serious medical errors, not disclosing financial relationships with drug companies, telling their patients something untrue, and describing a patient's medical prognosis in an overly positive manner.

Whatever a doctor's reason for not telling the whole truth, patients need to be aware of this trend and need to proceed with caution as they heed a doctor's advice. Much like physician error, a doctor's misinformation can lead to serious injury, disability, and even death.

Patients can prevent harm by being informed and proactive and following a few simple guidelines. Tell your doctor what you want instead of letting the doctor assume what you want. You can even go so far as to ask your doctor to be completely open and upfront with you. Educate yourself and learn what you can before the appointment. The conversation is likely to be more open if you can demonstrate your own knowledge and interest in your health.

Speak to your doctor in person. Face-to-face conversations are more valuable than conversations with your doctor over the phone or email. You may also want to write down questions before your meeting or appointment. This is a good way to ensure that you don't forget to ask anything. And don't be afraid to speak up. It is your own health that is at issue so you don't need to worry about asking questions or asking for clarification.

A patient who follows these tips on how to keep the doctor honest has a better chance of receiving the right treatment and the best information.

Source: ABC News, "Your Doctor May Be Keeping Secrets," April 8, 2012

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