9 White Lies Doctors Hear That Put A Patient's Health In Danger

October 19, 2022

A doctor's main responsibility is taking care of their patients. To do this effectively, they require honest answers to health and lifestyle related questions. Patients may be too embarrassed to disclose an unhealthy habit or simply think it is irrelevant. However, if doctors are unaware of the behaviour, it makes it difficult to for them to provide effective care, and it may even lead them to make decisions that put the patient's health at risk. Here are nine white lies patients tell their doctors that endanger their health.

Alcohol Intake

Some patients are ashamed to admit how much they really drink, so they lie and tell their doctor that they drink less than they do. This is a dangerous white lie because alcohol can interact with certain medications and either disable their effect or enhance it beyond safe levels. Some doctors are aware of this lie, so they automatically double the amount of alcohol their patients report consuming. According to experts, women are more likely to underreport the amount of alcohol they drink. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can increase women's risk of certain diseases, such as breast cancer. As a result, it is important for doctors to have accurate information about how much a woman drinks.

Sexual Activity

White lies about sexual activity range from claiming to have only one sexual partner to failing to admit to having unprotected sex. When doctors are not aware of a patient's sexual history, they may not be as vigilant about assessing the patient for sexually transmitted infections that could lead to serious health consequences if left untreated. Some sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, can take months before they produce noticeable symptoms. It is important for doctors to be aware of their patients' sexual history so they can use it to identify which patients should be monitored and tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In addition, such sexually transmitted infections as gonorrhoea and chlamydia can increase the risk of an unhealthy pregnancy and create medical issues for an unborn baby. If doctors are familiar with the sexual history of their patients, it is easier for them to properly monitor and test patients who become pregnant.


It is important for patients to share their full smoking history with their doctor even if they smoke only occasionally. Smoking increases the risk of developing lung, cervical, and breast cancer. It can also interfere with medication and raise the risk of dangerous side effects (for example, blood clots and strokes) produced by medication. In addition, it can impair post-operative recovery by decreasing blood flow to injured areas of the body, increase the risk of complications from general anesthesia, and raise the likelihood of developing post-surgical infections. For these reasons, physicians who interact with a patient must be aware of his or her smoking history.

Recreational Drug Use

Prescription medications are not the only drugs physicians need to be aware of. It is also important for them to know if patients are using drugs recreationally. Some patients lie about their use of recreational drugs even if the drugs are legal. However, when patients share their drug use history with their doctor, the doctor is better able to provide the care they need while avoiding courses of action that could put the patient's health at risk. For example, if doctors know a patient has struggled with a drug addiction before, they will avoid prescribing highly addictive medications to him or her. Knowledge about recreational drug history also helps surgeons and anesthesiologists identify patients who may be at increased risk of complications from certain procedures and plan accordingly.

Natural Medications And Supplements

When doctors ask patients if they have been taking any medications, they are also asking about alternative and natural substances. Some patients think doctors need o know only about prescription medications. However, some substances in natural and herbal supplements, such as caffeine and green tea, can interact with other medications. For example, herbal supplements used to treat anxiety and depression make birth control medications less effective. If doctors are unaware that their patients are using these supplements, they may not know that they need to warn them about possible consequences, such as an unplanned pregnancy. In addition, certain vitamins and over-the-counter medications can interfere with surgical procedures and affect how patients heal afterwards, so doctors must be aware that patients are taking them before performing these procedures.


Some patients feel compelled to tell their doctors they feel fine even if they are experiencing noticeable symptoms. They may feel too embarrassed to discuss depression, anxiety, fatigue, or their sex drive. Alternatively, they may be too scared to find out they have a serious disease, such as cancer or heart disease. Sometimes, doctors may be able to tell that something is wrong even if the patient is unwilling to disclose it. In many cases, however, doctors will not be able to detect conditions or diseases if they do not know they need to check for them. Treatment for a serious illness may be more effective if started early, so it is important for patients to share symptoms and other information about their health with their doctor.

Prescription Medication Use

It is not enough for doctors to know that a patient has been prescribed a medication. They must also know the prescribed dose and whether the patient is taking it properly. Some patients do not want to admit they forgot to take their medication a few times or took the wrong amount of it. However, when patients are not honest about how they have been taking their prescription medications, doctors are more likely to overprescribe a medication that does not seem to be working at a lower dose or switch the patient to a different medication altogether. Prescription medications can also interact with each other. If doctors have accurate information about patients' prescription medication history, they are better able to avoid prescribing drugs that are known to interact dangerously when taken together.


Some patients feel embarrassed about disclosing all of their piercings and tell nurses that only their ears are pierced. It is important for doctors to know about all of the piercings a patient has because the process used to control bleeding during surgery involves passing a current through a metal wire to generate heat. This can affect metal piercings and fry the surrounding skin. Disclosing information about piercings may also help doctors pinpoint the source of a persistent infection.

Skin Care

Lying about the use of sunscreen or tanning beds makes it difficult for doctors to detect early signs of skin cancer. Doctors who are well informed about their patients' habits are better equipped to detect life-threatening diseases by assessing patients for suspicious lesions and sending samples to a lab for further testing. It is also important for doctors to know about procedures patients have had on their face, products they use on their skin, and whether they pick their skin. This helps doctors select the best treatments for skin conditions by understanding the possible root causes.

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