COVID-19 and the importance of truth-telling

I have access to a physicians only internet group for Canadian doctors and COVID-19.

Today I read dozens (if not hundreds) of physicians reporting that patients are sometimes lying about their symptoms.

When they come to a clinic, or phone, or come to the ER, they lie and say they aren’t having any respiratory symptoms. Or they lie and say they haven’t travelled.

Then, when the doctor comes in to assess them, they confess that they were lying because “I wanted to be sure I was seen” or something like that.

Because of the lying, the doctor and other health care workers have not been properly protected against the possible illness with the correct protective equipment. They have also put clinic and ER staff at risk, and other patients. They may contaminate ER spaces that are not designated for infectious disease, and which cannot be cleaned easily or quickly.

This is reprehensible. I’m sure it’s a minority of people, but it is happening far too much in just this relatively small group of docs. And we’re early days yet.

For the record, if anyone pulls that on me, that ends the doctor-patient relationship immediately. Unless they are dying in front of me, that will be the end of the visit. If they’re lucky, I won’t call the RCMP right there.

I will then fire them from my practice, and I will move heaven and earth to get them banned from our clinic forever–I suspect my partners wouldn’t take much convincing.

(There is even the possibility that this could become a legally actionable crime, akin to assault or the like. If it does, rest assured I’d help prosecute as far as the law would let me.)

You aren’t allowed to risk my staff’s health, the nurses’ health, or the health of other patients for your own purposes.

Spread the word to your friends–lying can cost lives, and it isn’t going to help you. I think massive social pressure is the only thing that can keep the few bad actors from behaving this way. And, when people are frightened, they often do dumb things.

Tough love is sometimes necessary.

Stay safe and let us help you without hurting others.