When Patients Lie

Created by:

14 Jul 2016 - General

If you watched this TV series, you know that Dr House loves to say this: "Everybody Lies" and I think whether it is a big or small lie, everyone really does. This is most especially true for patients. It is not always easy to determine whether the patient is telling the truth or not---whether he is telling you everything or he is conveniently omiting information from you. The other day I was doing a mouth exam on a patient and as my usualy spiel goes, I ask: "When was your last visit to the dentist?" And he said: "Just last week". I expressed my approval and continued my questioning: "What treatment did you receive?" And he answered: "I had fillings done."

At that, I asked him to open his mouth so I could record his current oral condition. I started writing things down and I realized that I wasn't seeing any filling on any of his teeth. You just had fillings done last week? Who are you kidding? I wanted to scream---"LIAR!" But I didn't anymore. I just gave him a face mirror and I pointed out all the teeth that needed fillings (and I think I pointed to all his teeth). Of course this is not the first time that I caught a patient lying to me. Sometimes it's all about asking the right questions--otherwise, you just have to figure things out for yourself. 

Have you caught patients lying to you? What did you do?



Unfortunately, this is so common among patients and even their relatives. As a resident trainee, I’ve experienced numerous situations wherein patients and their relatives will deny certain facts, only to admit them in front of my consultant. This really annoys me because it makes me look incompetent in front of my boss, as if I can’t even obtain an accurate history! A lot of times patients who had a vehicular accident will deny alcohol intake (even if its downright obvious because of the way the...
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"Everybody lies..I don't ask why patients lie, I just assume they all do.", said Gregory House. Those words ring in my head ever so often when I see patients. I don’t want to be cynical and completely channel House but it tends to be necessary. I've had several experiences where patients would lie. I find that the usual reasons are that they are embarrassed to tell you the truth and or they are unaware that the truth is necessary. The truth will set you free. I remember distinc...
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