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Seen At 11: Withholding Information From Your Doctor Could Be Deadly

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. And that’s especially true when it comes to your health.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, whether it’s a checkup or something more, patients who withhold information from their doctors could be putting their lives at risk.

“I just don’t want to give out that information,” said Sharon Brown.

“If it doesn’t seem like it’s an issue, I wouldn’t bring it up,” said Joel Mason.

But Dr. Barry Weintraub, a plastic surgeon, said what you don’t tell your doctor, may end up killing you.

That nearly happened to 52-year-old Virginia Mainiero.

“I think what we do is take shortcuts,” she said.

“There was an inordinate amount of bleeding,” Weintraub said of Mainiero’s facelift. “She apparently had — and she didn’t disclose this — a cardiac catheterization four days earlier and that doctor put her on plavix. This was very, very close to becoming a catastrophe.”

“You have to really disclose everything about yourself, even though you may not think it’s important,” Mainiero said.

Everything turned out alright in Mainiero’s case, but doctors agree there are common lies that they hear too frequently from patients.

“If someone with withholds heavier drinking. Another important one is smoking. There may be sedatives, there may be other things that the patient’s doing that I really need to know about,” Weintraub said.

A recent survey said nearly 30 percent of Americans admit they sometimes lie to their doctor.

“Elderly patients may be afraid to tell you something because they think you are going to do an extra test or maybe you are going to diagnose something they are afraid of,” said Dr. Albert Levy.

Levy, a family practitioner, said he encourages his patients to divulge even the most personal information. He said he’s also treated men who didn’t tell the truth about taking sexual performance enhancing drugs.

“A doctor is not a judge, or police. They’re just here to help you,” he said.

Levy said not being truthful about lifestyles and medications means a patient won’t get the care that’s needed.

It’s also important to talk to your doctor about any additional stress you may be experiencing. It may help the practitioner understand symptoms that may be occurring as a result.

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