David Lewis, BMedSc(Hon), MBBS
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Lewis D.; Truthfulness and Personal Disclosure in the Physician–Patient Relationship. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:593. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-149-8-200810210-00014
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(8):593.
TO THE EDITOR:
I enjoyed the recent essay by Agrawal (1) but remain concerned about half-truths and outright lying to patients. What we do in our personal lives really should have no part in the consultation.
I was away from my practice for 8 months due to critical illness after bypass surgery in September 2007. My patients had missed me. Now I am returning, and many consultations begin with “How are you, doctor?” It is difficult for me to reply honestly because my role is to be “the doctor.” Most of my patients are not really interested to learn of my chronic lung disease, physical infirmity, and generalized anxiety with posttraumatic stress disorder. Nor do they wish to hear about my constant aches and pains and how I'e had an interrupted sleep pattern since January. But these are important to me, and sometimes I feel that bits and pieces of my frailty should be shared. However, one patient booked an appointment specifically to check on me and reassure me that he has never felt better since his bypass 24 years ago. He was surprised and grateful that I wished to discuss his cholesterol treatment; perhaps I was a little too dismissive of his overture to help me.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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