Doctors Confess: The Most Annoying Things That Patients Do

Lying, being late, self-diagnosing on the internet... they've seen it all. Next time you go to see your doc, remember a couple of these...

Patient comes for a 15 minute appointment, spends 14 minutes talking about a mild cough, then as the doctor goes to leave the room, patient suddenly remembers, "Oh, yeah and my penis is green and smells strange."

Also, having to write medical certificates/letter for employers that require them if someone takes a day off because they're sick. Waste of everyone's time. "Patient stated he has a cold. Examined and determined that patient does indeed have a cold. Thanks for wasting my time."


Then act like they are being axe murdered when I take blood or put in an IV line.


"Are you smoker ? "


"Have you ever smoked?"


"How long were you smoking for?"

-2 packs a day for 50 years

"When did you give up? "

-Three days ago


and then INTERRUPT ME because their Google PhD knows better.


That being sick and feeling like crap while your body heals is unacceptable. You broke your ankle, I can do lots of things to help you heal and be in less pain, but it's going to hurt. Being pain-free is impossible. 

You have the flu? You're going to feel like complete trash for 5-7 days, feverish, achy, weak, coughing. Frankly unless you're seriously ill, you shouldn't be contaminating your community and my waiting room--go to bed, take Tylenol or ibuprofen, fluids, and wait.


"My blood sugar is high."

"How high."


"How do you feel?"


"Have you been taking your metformin?"

"No because I feel fine."

The ones that bug me the most are the people that have a basic URI (the common cold), come to the ED, and say something along the lines of "It's been going on a few days when I knew I should come get checked out." And then look at me expecting a pat on the head. No. You didn't do good. You're a moron.


X rays negative. No neurologic deficits. NOTHING WRONG.

"Well can you give me something for pain?"

"Sure take some Tylenol."

"That doesn't work for me."


I just wish these people could see how much time they are taking away from truly sick people. Also stop being a wimp. You're going to hurt sometimes. We're only like 2 generations removed from most of the population doing hard labor where they lived with aches and pains all day every day. Now, a sprained ankle merits some Norco and a reassuring talking-to. Ugh.


Especially unproven and sometimes dangerous recommendations from their naturopaths eg. "broccoli juice cures cancer."


"I can't sleep"

Well, neither can I now. 

(And yes, this actually happens.)


If you arrive late and she's already behind and seeing the patient after you she may ask you to reschedule if it's not an emergency. 

If you know you're going to be late call in and let them know it might save you a trip if the doctor is already behind or they could tell you to come in anyway.


The doctors and nurses are doing their best to help you and deserve respect. They do not have to see you so don't go treating them like some minimum wage cashier (you should also treat cashiers with respect) and try to walk all over them. My mother has fired patients who were repeatedly rude to the front end and phone personnel. 

There is a section in your account where the staff can put notes for everyone to see when they pull up your billing info. If you're a dick to them it will show up there and you will find everyone much less accommodating.


Patient: you made my back pain worse!

Me: oh no! Which home exercise aggravates your pain?

Patient: I didn't do them.

Me:...okay, then what did make your back pain worse?

Patient: I have no idea.

Me: what did you do yesterday?

Patient: well, I felt better after you examined me, so I played golf for six hours yesterday/went to roller derby practice/helped three friends move/ran a half marathon with no training, and now I feel worse!

Me: facepalm


Oh you're not feeling any better after the antibiotics?? "I didn't take them"


Even if it's embarrassing. You're just wasting the doctor's time when they have to take a completely different history from the one you give me, and I'm inputting your charts anyway so you're not hiding it from me.


Did you waste 15 minutes of your visit shuffling papers or going on about unrelated stuff? Take a look at the next person going in as you walk out of the room: That's also his/her time you were wasting


Patient: I have a 2 year old with a runny nose, and I found this (homeopathic remedy that doesn't actually have any medicine in it), is this a good choice?

Me: Well, there's no evidence to suggest that this product is effective, but this Claritin/Zyrtec is not only cheaper, it has real medicine in it that has been clinically proven to help manage allergy type symptoms including runny nose, and is labeled for use in a child this young.

Patient: No thanks, I'll just give this other crap, after wasting 10 minutes of your valuable time, against your professional advice.


It's one thing if they're financially in a rough spot- I try to help them out as much as I can... but it's another when they say things like "I just don't believe in medicine" or "I think I can fix this with coconut oil/turmeric/essential oils/crystals, and I don't trust any of your advice." I feel like I've done nothing to help their little friend and I worry about their pet all day.

Bonus anger when they want to pay for a toenail trim for 20 bucks and the medicine they've declined is cheaper than that (I've even gotten 'no's when I try to give them a free trim so that I could send home meds).


Time is of the essence and we have nearly 15 minutes to interview, figure out what they have and tell them what can be done.

Because of the time frame, during the interview we need objective answers, something patients avoid like hell. We ask when the pain started and they say: "Well, I was at Mary's wedding when it started."

(Thinking): "Who's Mary?!"

"When was it?"

"28th day"

(Thinking) "Of which month?!?!??!?!!?"

I have several other patients and don't want to be rude with this one, but I need answers.


Must be awesome to be able to diagnose yourself, what do you even need me for?


"You don't understand, I need this cold to go away as quick as possible, and that's why I really do need antibiotics". Oh, I'm sorry, that's alright then - my bad!


The billing department will work with you. If you have a certain number of un-payed bills you will not be seen. Some guy once hired one of those services that claimed to reduce your medical bills by negotiating for you. That sort of thing only really works with hospitals where you don't have reoccurring visits. 

The hospitals might settle for getting a lower amount rather than getting even less by selling it to a collection agency, but a clinic that you have to go back to every six months will just fire you as a patient.


The clinic is required to pay for an interpretor for you. If they show up and cannot communicate there is not much that can be done. If this is the case please show up because they have to pay the interpretor even if you don't show up.


Sometimes it's talking a lot, sometimes its wincing even though nothing hurts, sometimes its even being mean to me or my staff.

We get it, and that is why we spend time before any procedures explaining things and talking about anything you want. But what really annoys me is once we get going, I just need you to sit still and keep your mouth wide open. I am performing microsurgery on your tooth with a very sharp drill that spins at 300,000 rpm and I need to make cuts to tolerances of 1/10 of a millimeter in dark confined spaces in the back of your mouth. I'm sorry you don't like the feeling of your own saliva pooling in your mouth but I just need you to suck it up for 30 seconds so I can do a good job and we won't have to re-do this in 6 months.


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