The Unsettling Truth About Your Health: What You Are Not Being Told

No one goes to a doctor unless they face a health problem. We are not talking about the annual health check-up or regular testing required when you have a lifestyle disease or a serious health condition. You visit a clinic or hospital when you feel uncomfortable or experience unusual symptoms, are unable to function normally, or have had an accident or injury. 

Many people over the years develop a working relationship with their health care service providers, and this helps them to get personalized, timely advice and care. The relationship hinges on preventive care, and one of the factors is to stay on top of any ongoing treatments you’re already taking. 

In the case of serious and complicated conditions such as heart disease or cancer, doctor visits help you to avoid a health crisis, and get the right information about how to cope with the problem. 

Disclosing Information: What’s The Doctor’s Duty?

Medical professionals all over the world are subject to the law of the land, apart from their own professional ethics. They are required to disclose all information regarding the treatment and medication. If there are procedures to be done, informed consent has to be taken from patients. If the patient is a minor, guardians have to provide this. 

This helps patients to make more educated decisions, based on the information provided to them. When you give your informed consent, it implies that you are aware of the risks, outcomes  and consequences involved. Doctors must ensure this before any procedure to protect themselves from malpractice or negligence suits. 

Other information that doctors must reveal to patients includes:

  • Diagnostic opinion of the condition based on tests and/or professional skill and experience
  • All available treatments that the doctor knows of
  • Any alternate treatments, including diet and lifestyle changes
  • Risks of not taking any treatment
  • Complete details about the treatment chosen and reasons for it
  • Possible outcomes – both success and failure
  • Risks involved

There are caveats involved in complete disclosure as well. Doctors can follow the letter of the law and not disclose all possible risks and alternative treatments. 

They are required to follow the general standard of care expected from the medical profession and that which any other doctor with a similar education and skills would have carried out for a patient under similar circumstances. 

The ancient Hippocratic Oath that demands that physicians “Do no harm” still holds good. Doctors have to ensure that they don’t worsen any existing condition. 

Apart from these general provisions, different countries may have different legal requirements regarding maintenance of records.

There are certain conditions where doctors don’t have to disclose information. If a patient explicitly says they don’t want to know, or if disclosure could potentially harm the patient emotionally in the doctor’s opinion. In some cases, when the procedure is simple and well-known, doctors may not give the complete details. 

Health Truths That Doctors Won’t Tell You About

Heart Health For Women: Heart disease is a real and present danger for post-menopausal women. You may visit your doctor for a seemingly unrelated condition such as diabetes but a perceptive doctor can advise you on the risk of heart disease if you’re overweight, have high blood pressure or cholesterol too. Advice can be supplemented with dietary recommendations, lifestyle changes, emotional wellness and self care suggestions. Your doctor may not have the time or patience to talk about stress management techniques. They may not tell you about the sympathetic nervous system reaction of Fight or Flight, or the complementary parasympathetic response of rest and digest and the best way to activate this beneficial system. Read more about it. 

Memory Issues: You have this unmistakable feeling that your memory and cognitive thinking aren’t what they used to be. But your doctor is dismissive and tells you not to worry. Studies by the Alzheimer’s Association of America report that nearly 55% of patients with Alzheimer’s haven’t been told that they have the condition. Doctors feel that it would cause emotional distress and create problems for care-givers if the diagnosis was shared with the patient. 

Latest Research: Many doctors are simply too busy to keep up with the latest research and developments in the field. They may not be aware of simpler, more efficient or more affordable treatments that have been introduced recently. Unfortunately, some of these doctors also resent it when patients share information on these aspects with them. They feel threatened and assume that the patient has no faith in them. In some cases, doctors may be aware of new findings, but could keep this information from you because they feel it would not be effective, or they don’t know enough about it. 

Emotional Reactions: One of the reasons why we visit a doctor is for reassurance. The calm and logical way in which they approach the problem gives us the confidence that they know how to handle things. Doctors rarely show their emotions to patients. They curb their own natural reactions so that patients don’t get upset. For instance if you find a lump in your breast, you go into panic mode instantly, but your doctor reacts with composure. Some patients find this odd and confusing and want their doctors to show emotions. Some doctors have trained themselves to maintain a brusque exterior to protect themselves from emotional highs and lows that would interfere with their skills. 

Doctors seldom advise you about your own emotional reactions and how to cope with them. They leave it completely to you to deal with fear, anxiety, depression and stress when you receive a diagnosis, have to take tests, start treatment, develop side effects of medications, or worry about outcomes. 

Tests: Today, the art of diagnosis has transformed completely from what it was in an earlier era. Then doctors depended on their skills, experience and intuition to figure out what the problem was. Today, they are almost fully dependent on tests such as X-rays, MRI, blood work, testing of body fluids, lab tests, endoscopy, biopsy and more. This is done mainly because today what is practiced is defensive medicine. The looming threat of legal complications dictates how doctors approach patients. Many of the tests could be unnecessary or irrelevant, but they’re done with a pre-emptive motive so that the doctor remains legally protected. This is something that doctors may not tell their patients for obvious reasons. 

Complementary or Alternative Therapies: A majority of doctors trained in “Western medicine” would not suggest complementary or alternative therapies to patients suffering from chronic conditions. Some of them are hostile to the idea, while others dismiss them as unscientific or harmful. They feel that only their training equips them to diagnose, prescribe and treat patients, while other forms of therapy are not based on facts or science. Ultimately, all systems of medicine have the patient’s health as their focus, and it is left to the individual to choose the therapy that they personally prefer. But don’t depend on your doctor to tell you about traditional or alternative systems of medicine. 

Wellness: The concept of taking charge of your own health is an ancient one, but somewhere along the way, it got relegated to the back burner. With the growth of giant pharma corporations and advancements in medical technology, doctors and patients feel that there are no other alternatives. This has changed following the Covid19 pandemic, where people discovered that they do have choices. Your doctor may not tell you about home remedies, preventive therapies, wellness practices or emotional capacity building. For this you have to explore on your own. 


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