What Happens When a Healthcare Professional Lies to a Patient?

healthcare professional lies

I usually avoid telling the general public that I am a nurse. There are several reasons for this:

  • Unless a specific issue comes up it is none of other people’s business.
  • I dislike being asked to give my professional nursing opinion such as diagnosing people’s health problems and recommending treatments. It is out of my scope of practice and it could be litigious to give advice.
  • Strangers want to show you things on parts of their body that you do not want to see on anyone much less complete strangers.
  • I am always curious to see how other healthcare professionals treat patients that they assume are medically uneducated. I want to be treated appropriately for the right reason. All patients and people deserve to be treated with human dignity and respect.

Recently, my husband and I were blatantly lied to by a healthcare professional that was going to do a test on my husband. I made a simple request of the healthcare professional  and she told me it was not possible. Then she preceded to give us a long winded story as to why it was not possible.

In this situation, I knew it was possible because 1. I am a nurse, and 2. I was there several months ago with our son and was able to do then exactly what I was requesting now. She told us no because she would be inconvenienced. I just shook my head and said “whatever” as I walked off. My husband seemed confused by my anger because her refusal sounded reasonable on the surface. As he left for his test,  I just smirked at his confusion because he would soon realize what a load of manure she just tried to sell us.

I waited in the waiting room. The first thing he said when he came back was “I was confused why you were so angry. But, I realized quickly why you were! Don’t worry, I let her know that we knew!”  I asked “What do you mean?” He said at the end of his test she tried to smooth over the situation with more excuses. My husband stopped her with “my wife is a nurse and she has been here before with our son”. Her face turned beet red because my husband’s statement revealed what everyone now knew.

As a nurse, some people might wonder why I would tell a story about a healthcare professional that portrays them in a negative light. Nurses and healthcare professionals are humans too. They make mistakes. The point is to learn from your mistakes. Another takeaway of our healthcare customer service and patient experience is that a healthcare professional should not lie because (besides being immoral) you will eventually get caught. As the healthcare professional you will look ridiculous and petty while the patient’s trust is eroded when they discover it.

Patient safety was not at risk in our situation. But it makes the patient wonder “If I can’t trust them in such as simple matter, what can I trust them with?” We would have been much happier with his patient care experience if she would have just told the truth.

What about you? Are you a nurse that hears other healthcare professionals tell “white” lies to their patients so they won’t be inconvenienced? Have you experienced a similar scenario as a patient? Feel free to leave your comments below.

“Image courtesy of Photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

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