14 ways to drive your doctor crazy during a physical exam

1. When your doctor looks in your eyes with a flashlight, shut your eyes tightly so he can’t see your pupils. Later, when your doctors asks you to shut your eyes tightly to test your eyelid strength, look at him like he’s speaking in tongues and keep your eyes open. If he whips out his flashlight to look at your pupils again, quickly close your eyes or blink rapidly and twitch your lip.

2. When your doctor tries to look in your mouth, arch your tongue so he can’t see the back of your throat. If he tries to use a tongue depressor, make gagging noises as soon as the tongue depressor touches your tongue and say that you forgot to tell him that you’re allergic to balsa wood. Argue with him about what type of wood tongue depressors are made out of.

3. When your doctor looks in your ear with that light thingy, keep saying “What? WHAT? I can’t hear you. WHAT?”

4. When your doctor tries to listen to your neck with his stethoscope, suddenly start talking loudly. Telling your doctor what your Great Uncle Seymour had for dinner at his wedding would be a good topic of conversation at this point. When he pulls the stethoscope away from your neck, stop talking. When he puts the stethoscope back on your neck, start talking loudly about your Great Uncle Seymour again.

5. When your doctor listens to your lungs with his stethoscope, hold your breath. Do this as long as you can and give him a puzzled look when he doesn’t move the stethoscope around. When he takes the stethoscope off your back, start breathing. When he puts the stethoscope back on your chest, hold your breath again.

6. When your doctor tries to listen to your heart, take shallow breaths and moan loudly every time you exhale.

7. Laugh loudly and wiggle all over the bed when your doctor presses on your stomach. Tell him to stop it because you’re ticklish.

8. When your doctor pulls out the reflex hammer, tense the muscles in every extremity he touches. If he tries to bend your knee, hold your leg straight. Fight him when he tries to bend your knee. If he tries to trick you by touching one leg and then tapping the other with the hammer, tense both legs.

9. When your doctor tests your strength and tells you to move a muscle, do the opposite of what he tells you. If he tells you to pull against him, push in the opposite direction. If he tells you to pull your toes toward your nose, shake your legs back and forth.

10. When your doctor tells you to close your eyes and touch your nose, keep your eyes open and touch your nose. When he tells you that you have to keep your eyes closed, close your eyes, slowly move your finger toward your nose, then touch the top of your head or some other body part.

11. When your doctor tells you to stand and try to balance on one leg, just sit there and look at him like you don’t understand what he’s saying. Then stand up and hold onto the bed or the wall while lifting one of your feet. Keep doing it even when your doctor tells you not to.

12. When your doctor examines your skin, point at random areas of your body and ask what he thinks that rash is. When he asks what rash you are talking about, Look at him like he’s crazy and point to the same spot, saying “THAT rash. Right THERE.” Then roll your eyes and shake your head.

13. After the exam, tell the nurse that you don’t think the doctor did a very good physical exam.

14. When your doctor comes in to give you your discharge papers, ask him what year of training he’s in. Duck quickly. Chances are good that he will swing at you.

WhiteCoat is an emergency physician who blogs at WhiteCoat’s Call Room at Emergency Physicians Monthly and Dr. Whitecoat.

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  • Suzi Q 38

    It must have been a slow day at the ER.

  • Rob Burnside

    And don’t forget to hand him/her a list of five or six questions, gleaned from the internet, that have little to do with your particular condition, each requiring a ten-minute answer. Then, you may not have to duck!

    • Jess

      And you can always start listing some vague symptoms your mom/dad/spouse/child has, and get cross with her when she can’t (won’t) remotely diagnose their dread disease.
      I mean, House does that “diagnosis” thing all the time. ALL. THE. TIME!

      • Rob Burnside

        Right on Jess, but you left out the next-door neighbor…!

      • sandyvc

        Yes. House, who is an actor speaking lines written by a non doctor, researches every nook and cranny. He almost never thinks he has the answer until the science is in. He does not stop searching until someone finds it. He portrays a very highly educated diagnostician. To get there he would have to go to school for years and years and then keep up.

  • NYC Patient

    As frustrated as I may be with doctors, these would be horrible to do, lol.

    But, interesting to see things that I have never had done as part as an annual physical…I don’t think an internist has ever done 4, 9, or 10. Neuro OCCASIONALLY does 9 & 10, but while fully dressed…so…

    • Édes szívem

      So you would like your Neuro to get undressed?

      • NYC Patient

        certainly not….but the patient should be in a gown for a complete neuro exam…that is in the curriculum for all of the residency coursework I have read.

  • Guest

    This is a great post. Because I don’t think there are NEARLY enough blog posts on the internet detailing the millions of things for which doctors (and nurses!) actually despise their stoopid knuckleheaded patients who weren’t smart enough to go to med school themselves.

    The ideal situation would actually be hospitals and clinics with no patients, where you could all just stand around and congratulate each other as to how much more clever than the hoi polloi you are. Although then, who would you ridicule in blog posts…?

    • sandyvc

      Really. How many doctors have you seen? The only arrogant doctors I have met were psychiatrists. I’m 65 and lived in two different countries. Every general practitioner I have known was delighted that I did research and was glad I brought it in.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    I have an addendum to #8. “When the doctor taps on your knee, deliberately kick out as quick as you can! It’s like a game!”

  • querywoman

    Ask for treatment for a skin problem or neck pain or something else they don’t care to treat.
    Thanks for the cute ideas, but I don’t have the time to waste.