Lying patients – how can we get to the truth?

patient lyingJason Hubble explores ways dentists and dental professionals can get the whole truth and earn their patients’ trust.

It’s no secret that doctors are often lied to by their patients. Patients frequently lie to their physicians, whether it’s about what they ate for breakfast or how many drinks they had last night.

As a healthcare professional, it’s important to learn how to get the truth out of your patients to provide them with the best possible care.

In this article, we’ll discuss some tips on how to do just that. Stay tuned!

First step: identify they’re not telling the truth

As a doctor, one of your most important responsibilities is to get accurate information from your patients.

The first step in getting the truth out of your patients is identifying when they are telling lies. There are several telltale signs that someone may be lying.

Below we will focus on some of the most obvious signs when your patients are trying to be clever.

They’re avoiding eye contact

When a patient is avoiding eye contact, it is difficult to gauge their level of honesty.

When your patient is doing that whilst answering critical questions about their health, it is a cause for concern.

They may avoid eye contact for several reasons, including shame, embarrassment, or guilt. In some cases, patients may withhold information out of fear of judgement.

It is also important to be aware of other nonverbal cues that may indicate dishonesty, such as fidgeting or looking away.

By being attuned to these signals, you can help ensure that you are getting accurate information from your patients.

Inconsistencies in the answers

Often patients tend to lie with their health professionals. In doing so, their answers may be inconsistent.

If you suspect that your patient is lying to you, pay close attention to their answers. Inconsistencies may be a sign that they are not being truthful.

In addition, try to ask follow-up questions to get more information.

For example, if a patient says they only eat three meals a day, you might ask them what they typically have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

By getting more details, you can better understand your patient’s true habits and make more informed decisions about their care.

Unusual body language

When a person is telling a lie, their body language will often betray them.

For example, they may sweat or fidget and appear uneasy. Their voice may also give them away, as they may speak more quickly than usual or have trouble finding the right words.

A lying patient may also hesitate before answering questions or provide vague responses that don’t really address the question at hand.

But, of course, not all of these behaviours necessarily indicate deception; some people may simply be nervous or uncomfortable for other reasons.

Second step: make them feel comfortable

It’s important that the patient feels comfortable telling you the truth. To ensure that follow the below steps.

Ease the environment

To get the true story from your patient, it is essential to make them feel comfortable.

This means creating a judgement-free environment where they can openly discuss their symptoms and concerns.

It may also be helpful to assure them that their information will be kept confidential. You can encourage your patients to be honest with you by taking these steps.

Build the trust

As a medical professional, it is important to build trust with your patients to get an accurate story from them.

This is especially challenging when dealing with nervous patients.

There are a few things you can do to help build trust and confidence with these patients:

  1. Make sure to listen carefully and attentively to their concerns
  2. Provide reassurance and encourage them to ask questions
  3. Be respectful of their privacy and avoid pushing too hard for information.

Third step: get the truth out

Now that you know already you’re not getting the full truth, it’s time to get it out.

That doesn’t mean you put your patients through a lie detector test, but simply make them comfortable around you and make them feel confident telling the truth.

Read on for simple steps below.

Encourage honesty

In these cases, it is important to find a way to encourage honesty in patients.

One approach is to make it clear that the truth is better for the patient in the long run.

Do this by explaining how lies can lead to inaccurate diagnoses and ineffective treatments. In addition, if a patient believes that you have their best interests at heart, they are more likely to give you honest information.

Another approach is to reassure patients that their confidential information will be kept safe. This will help to build trust and make patients feel more comfortable sharing sensitive information.

Avoid direct questions and create a monologue

When getting information from a patient, it is often more effective to take a less direct approach. For example, rather than firing off a series of questions, it is often better to make statements and let the patient fill in the gaps.

For example, if you suspect that a patient has not been taking their medication as prescribed, you might say something like: ‘I can tell you’re not feeling well because you’re not taking your medication.’

This statement implies that you already know what the patient has done. It gives them the opportunity to correct you if you are wrong.

Alternatively, they may simply confirm your suspicions without feeling like they are being interrogated.

Ultimately, this indirect approach is more effective in getting patients to open up and share information.

Using these strategies, you can encourage your patients to be honest with you, ensuring that you have all the information you need to provide them with the best possible care.

Final words

It’s important for doctors to be able to identify when a patient is lying, but it’s also important to make the patient feel comfortable. Once you have the patient’s trust, you can work on getting the full truth from them.


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