15 things patients do that drive their doctors crazy

  • Be prepared when going to the doctor and be honest about your symptoms.

    Be prepared when going to the doctor and be honest about your symptoms. Getty Images

  • Teri Dreher

    Teri Dreher

By Teri Dreher
Patient advocate
Posted8/17/2019 7:00 AM

As a patient, you undoubtedly have a list of pet peeves concerning your doctors, such as when they make you wait for appointments or won't spend as much time as you'd like. But has it occurred to you that doctors have pet peeves about patients, too?

They certainly do. Nurses and hospitals do, too.


And you should know what they are, because many of these things prevent you from getting the most from your health care. They can also keep health care providers from doing their best work, in an already challenging health care system.

The question is: do these doctors' pet peeves ever apply to you?

Pet peeves in the doctor's office

• When patients take 30 minutes to share five minutes' worth of information. Now the doctor is behind for the rest of the day.

• When patients show up late for outpatient surgery.

• When patients wait until they're in agony before requesting pain medications. Why create an unnecessary emergency?

• When patients "doctor shop," then tell each physician how much better their last doctor was. How is this helpful?

• When patients aren't truthful about their symptoms or lifestyle. This can prevent doctors from diagnosing them correctly.

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• When patients diagnose themselves. The internet is wonderful, but …

• When patients don't follow orders. If you won't take your medications or make lifestyle changes, how do you expect to get better?

• When patients only bring up the real reason for the visit as they're walking out the door.

Pet peeves in the hospital

• When patients don't know their medications and don't bring a list. More than irritating, this can be dangerous.

• When patients call for nurses again and again. Nurses are spread very thin these days -- consolidate your requests when possible.

• When patients refuse to get out of bed, then complain about having to go to rehab because they let themselves get weak. Don't sabotage your recovery

• When patients are rude. Not feeling well is not an excuse for making the people taking care of you miserable, too.

Pet peeves in the ER

• When patients show up in the ER for minor issues best handled by primary doctors. This slows down care for people who really need it, while driving up insurance costs.


• When tongue-tied patients present themselves at the ER without reliable information or someone to tell their story. This makes it much harder to provide the right treatment.

• When patients treat the ER like a free health clinic. This drives up health care costs for everyone.

How to be a good patient

The way to be a good patient is to show up for your appointments prepared and on time; be honest and respectful; and to be a responsible health care consumer. If you want great health care, be a great patient.

• Teri Dreher, RN, iRNPA, is a board-certified patient advocate and pioneer in the growing field of private patient advocacy. A critical care nurse for more than 30 years, today she is owner/founder of NShore Patient Advocates www.northshorern.com, the largest advocacy company in the Chicago area. She was awarded her industry's highest honor, The APHA H. Kenneth Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award, in 2015. She is among the first in her industry to earn the credential of Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA). Her 2016 book, "Patient Advocacy Matters," is now in its second printing.

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