How doctors know you're lying about how much you drink
It seems "Trust me, I'm a doctor" doesn't cut both ways. New research has found that 71 per cent of GPs think their patients, when asked about how much alcohol they drink, are economical with the truth.
As someone who worked as a doctor for six years, to say we all think you're a bunch of liars with a can of petrol-strength lager hidden in every pocket is something of a misrepresentation. It's more that it's medically important that we know how much you're actually drinking, rather than how much you tell us you are.
It's strange, perhaps, in a culture where the ability to down more beers than you can count on two hands is a badge of honour (or even a vote-winner, as William Hague apparently thought in 2000), that boozy pride tends to evaporate as soon as you walk into the waiting room. But we know you're embarrassed by it, and that you guilt-trip yourself over those six glasses of rosé you knocked back at the weekend.
We know you don't really tot up every drink, or remember the recommended limits, and we know how easy it is to underestimate. We get it – just like people upgrade their CVs to make that summer job in Starbucks seem like they were running the company single-handedly.
We're good at reading people; we meet a lot of you, often for very short periods of time, and we're not accusing you of lying.
But sometimes it's crucial, life-saving, even, that we don't take everything we're told at face value.
So don't make our lives harder than they have to be. Being straight with us about the little things saves us all time and lets us get to the heart of the matter. Rest assured, you won't be the person who drinks the most in that morning's clinic – and that includes the doctor.
Doctors are human, and we totally get it. Don't forget, once we clock off we don't just go sit in a cupboard and recharge our batteries for the next day – sometimes we're the ones getting overly rosé-happy on a Friday night. We have lives, and families, and we know how scary it is to be a patient. Sometimes, we are the patients.
We also make poor decisions, say the wrong things when we're stressed and get embarrassed. Don't underestimate the relief that comes from being open about your issues: the truth feels good once it's out there, so let's say it how it is.
Written by Adam Kay. Republished by permission of Stuff.co.nz.