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Why can't we lie as much as patients do?

Patients are constantly telling porkies to get themselves off the hook. Copperfield wonders why GPs can't join in with the fibbing

Patients are constantly telling porkies to get themselves off the hook. Copperfield wonders why GPs can't join in with the fibbing

The soft-in-the-head brigade try to foist the idea on us that doctors and patients are best-buddy partners and play an equally valuable role in healthcare decision-making. In real life, a GP consultation almost always ends up as an unbalanced parent-child thing.

I'm not particularly proud of this, it's just that we're smarter than them and that's how the world works. In the space of 10 minutes yesterday, I conducted a bloke along his patient journey from ‘I think I've got prostate cancer, Doc' to ‘So it's only a hernia then?'.

I didn't bother trying to figure out how he had decided a prostate problem might account for his symptoms. There's only so far you can delve into the workings of the deranged mind before you put your own sanity at risk and, besides, I had a surgery to finish.

Explaining the anatomy of the inguinal canal to him would have been like teaching particle physics to Rio Ferdinand. It wasn't cancer; he's happy. Result.

So, parent-child it has to be. But what do parents and children do? They lie to each other.

And we all know that patients lie. Whatever their age, they lie like children. They lie to get attention: ‘I'm hurting and I have to see a doctor right away.' They lie to avoid pain: ‘Hey, you know what? My tooth's feeling much better now.' And they lie to avoid being held responsible: ‘I don't know why I'm overweight, I eat like a bird.'

Glaring whoppers

Even when they bring their own children along they carry on acting like kids and their glaring whoppers are easy to refute.

‘He hasn't kept anything down all day, Doc' is a tough stance to maintain when I point out that Junior has bright shiny eyes and a glistening wet tongue.

‘I never smoke when the kids are around' is hard to believe when the poor bastard is wheezing like an 80-year-old and smells like a pub ashtray.

Apparently, parents get away with this sort of thing at home every day – children believe the tooth fairy leaves coins under their pillows, that Mr Whippy's chimes mean he's run out of ice-cream and that Mummy and Uncle Roger are in bed because they're hiding from the wardrobe monster.

It's a shame GPs aren't allowed to tell lies like these because it would make our lives so much easier.

No more costly investigations into infertility, just an assurance that all the storks are busy right now but one will come along soon.

Wayne's testis hasn't failed to descend, it simply fell off because he played with it too much in the bath.

And there's no problem with Angel's third cranial nerve – it's just that the wind changed when she was making a cross-eyed funny face and she's stuck like that until she kisses a toad.

Doctors have to lie like grown-ups. Credible white lies like ‘It's probably nothing but let's organise some tests to make sure' when we know it might be something after all.

S'not fair.

Copperfield - why can't we lie like patients do?

It's just that we're smarter than the patients - and that's how the world works

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