Doctors Should Stop Lying to Patients

<grumble>

I’m in the infusion center right now getting my monthly dose of cancer cure, and I asked the nurse for a copy of the results of my recent bloodwork. Last month I did this accidentally, and it turned out that the printed copy contained my M-protein levels. I normally have to wait for those until my doctor manually releases them.

I figured I had discovered a loophole in the system, but no. Today’s nurse told me the M-protein test was “in process” and therefore unavailable. I told her this just meant that Dr. A hadn’t released them yet. No, no, she insisted, and turned the screen around so I could see the words “In Process.” I repeated that this just meant the results were waiting for Dr. A to let me see them and then grumbled something about not understanding why I had to wait to see my own test results.

A minute later my nurse returned and said she had asked, but it was policy not to release this stuff, and last month’s nurse was new and didn’t realize that.

OK, fine. I don’t like it, but it’s fine. What really gets me, though, is their persistent unwillingness to admit that it’s “policy” at fault here, not something else. My first oncologist blamed it on IT and said I couldn’t see my M-protein results at all until an office visit. My current oncologist admits that I can see them, and blames the policy about manually releasing them on mysterious forces beyond his ken. The nurses try to pretend that it takes several days for the lab to do its job, and that’s why I can’t see them.

I’m not sure what bugs me more: not being allowed to see the results immediately or being routinely lied to. I even understand the reason for the policy (I think), and I admit that it probably makes some sense. But don’t doctors know that when they lie to patients about one thing, it makes patients wonder if they’re lying about other stuff too? Why not just tell me why they have the policy they do; admit that they themselves are the authors of that policy; and then promise to release the results promptly? I suppose that would prompt arguments from patients, and they don’t want to waste time on arguments.

I get that. I really do. But still. I wonder how many other things they don’t tell me because they figure it’s not worth the hassle?

</grumble>

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.