How patients can annoy their doctors

A study suggested that doctors rated up to 15 percent of patients they see as “difficult.”

What does that mean? This piece from MedPage Today and ABC News, gives six examples of what patients can do to frustrate their doctors.

I’ll leave the obvious ones for you to read, such as stopping medications without notice, or keeping silent about the herbs and supplements patients may be taking, and instead focus on two instances where patients play an active role, not only to annoy their physicians, but in driving up health costs.

The first is demanding a brand name medication they see on television or read in the newspaper. Indeed, there are some “who are simply sold on a drug can interfere with their own care,” and, “view doctors as simply a source of a signature for something they want, without really wanting the physician’s guidance or opinion.”

Discussing the appropriateness of drugs they hear about is welcome and encouraged. Demanding them, without considering a doctor’s opinion, isn’t

And next, is the demand for a variety of tests, in the mistaken belief that more tests equals better medicine. There are conscientious individuals, like blogger Duncan Cross, who are wary of the risks and complications diagnostic tests can expose patients to. But he’s in the minority.  Unfortunately, as some physicians observe, there is a “bias some patients have to just doing more, without any understanding of how more care is not only expensive, but actually often leads to complications, poor outcomes, and lower quality.”

Granted, especially with the spate of recent articles on health reform, mainstream media is increasingly focusing on the downside risks of testing, and more patients are realizing that more tests can lead to worse outcomes.

But the prevailing mentality continues to be on the side of over-testing, and that’s something both doctors and patients need to realize first, before it can be reined in.