Dr House always say, “Everybody lies” when he talks about patients. In a medical forum I am a part of, we were just talking about this and we’ve all had experience with patients who’ve lied to us, whether it is about the true history of their condition, an activity they’ve engaged in, medication they took and so forth. Patients are naturally frightened or embarrassed of the truth, so they lie and withhold information from doctors, but there are some lies that still get uncovered. And sometimes, it’s already obvious that you’ve caught them in a lie, but they will still commit to it–might as well, right, they’ve already gotten that far.
Anyway, one time I had a patient come in for a simple mouth exam and I asked, “When was your last visit to the dentist?” He answered, “A few weeks ago.” I continued with my questioning, “What treatment did you receive?” And he proudly answered, “I had some fillings done.” So I applauded that, “Very good.” By that time I asked him to open his mouth so I could record the current state of his oral cavity. I turned the light on, I put my mouth mirror out and began noting dental caries, when I noticed that I am not seeing any filling at all in any of his teeth. As a matter of fact, all I see are dental caries (cavities). I looked at him, my eyebrows raised and I wanted to scream, “You liar!!!” But I just let it go. I got a face mirror, pointed out all the teeth that needed fillings (almost all) and sent him away.
Everybody lies. Dr House insists that all people do, so you have to keep a watchful eye on things. As a doctor, you have to be some kind of detective–ask the right questions and look at the right place of clues. This, of course, is not limited to the clinic/hospital setting. In the general sense, it often helps to be a little cautious because there are some people who lie incessantly. They are masters of their craft. They’re like salesmen on crack and they do not care if they have to sell you sh*t, because it’s the personal gain that they’re after.
Dealing with Liars
I had a friend who just traveled to London for work and she got robbed by two people who were pretending (lying) to be cops. Fully committed to the lie, they even had the whole cop uniform, and seeing my friend as an obvious tourist, they pretended to carryout a random check of stuff (including her passport). Totally clueless, she later on discovered that she was 400 GBP short of loose cash. Big time liars!
There are different kinds of liars in the world. There are liars like Pinocchio who cannot lie for their own sake because their noses give them away. There are pathological liars who cannot help it (because it’s part of their system) and they show no morsel of remorse, so it’s best to stay away from them because they cannot be trusted. And then there’s the worst kind of liars–scariest ones–the ones who pretend to be GOOD.
I’ve dealt with a lot of liars all my life. Men who lie. Women who lie. Children who lie. Parents who lie. Patients who lie. All kinds of them. I lie too, c’mon, so I won’t judge. We all lie–and I am not saying it’s okay to do so, but what I want you to understand is that it happens and while it would be nice to have some kind of force field that automatically identifies and wards off liars, there isn’t one so you have to deal with every one of them. If they hurt you in the process, just pick yourself up and ready yourself for more, because they are aplenty.
Lessons learned: Everybody lies. Liars aplenty. Beware.