Lying to doctors could be harmful for patients

(CBS News) Telling a white lie to a friend is not always the best idea. Telling one to your doctor could lead to serious health problems, but many still seem to do it.

CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that people go into their doctor's office with a problem and do not always tell the whole truth simply because they do not want to feel criticized.

"Research shows that, again, people don't want to feel judged. It is a reflex," she said. "When you're in an interview setting, you want to make a good impression, but ultimately it's not about that."

According to a study conducted with the Cleveland Clinic, 28 percent of patients say they "lie or omit facts" when visiting their health care providers.

On the flipside, 77 percent of doctors and health care providers felt that a quarter of their patients knowingly leave out facts or flat-out lie to them. Meanwhile, 28 percent of doctors and providers estimated that at least half of their patients leave out facts or lie.

Studies have explained that patients lie because they don't want to be judged, they don't want to admit the truth and they don't want a sermon.

"Seeing your doctor makes you really take hold of what you're doing. It makes you look at your own behavior, and you might not want to accept what you're doing at the given time, so you fudge a little," said Phillips. "You often don't want to hear a lecture. I tell my patients, 'I don't want to lecture you. You know what to do, but it's my job to get you to do it.'"

Patients' most dangerous lies involve taking medications and herbal remedies, smoking, drinking, dieting and exercising.

The bottom line is to be truthful because even small lies can be harmful. Phillips said doctors should not judge their patients.

"I try to say, 'I'm not your priest or rabbi or the police,'" said Phillips. "If you don't feel your doctor is being non-judgmental, you might want to get a new one. You only get out of it what you put into it."

For Holly Phillips' full interview watch the video in the player above.

  • Shoshana Davis

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