Doctors Wish You’d Stop Making These 8 Mistakes Already

These slip-ups could seriously compromise your health care, according to the medical professionals we interviewed.

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Don't call 911 from a cell phone.

Don't call 911 from a cell phone.Stockbyte/Thinkstock
"If you have the option, calling from a landline can save your life because we can pinpoint your location instantly. If you call from a cell phone, we waste a lot of time asking where you are or searching for you."
—Arthur Hsieh, paramedic

Don't drive yourself to the hospital.

Don't drive yourself to the hospital.iStock/Thinkstock
“It’s incredible how many people having a heart attack drive themselves to the emergency room instead of calling 911. That’s just dumb. What are you going to do if you’re driving and your heart stops?”

—Arthur Hsieh, paramedic

Don't wait out stroke symptoms.

Don't wait out stroke symptoms.iStock/Thinkstock
"I'd never tell a patient that he's a moron for waiting a week for his stroke symptoms to improve before coming to the hospital. Although I'd like to. Especially if his wife then complains that we're not doing anything for the guy."
—A longtime nurse who blogs at

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When you don’t understand me, speak up.

When you don’t understand me, speak up.iStock/Thinkstock
"If you do not understand what the doctor is telling you, say so! I once heard a doctor telling his patient that the tumor was benign, and the patient thought that benign meant that he had cancer. That patient was my dad. It was one of the things that inspired me to become a nurse."
—Theresa Tomeo, RN, a nurse at the Beth Abraham Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Queens, New York

Don't use old medicine.

Don't use old medicine.iStock/Thinkstock
"Don't just grab any old bottle of eyedrops out of your medicine cabinet when a new problem comes up. If you have an infection, steroid drops might make the redness look better, but the infection could get worse. I've had to remove people's eyes because of that."
—Brian Bonanni, MD, an ophthalmologist at Gotham LASIK, New York City

Now did you really think that through?

Now did you really think that through?iStock/Thinkstock
"I've seen all sorts of things, including people who have shot their feet. You really shouldn't clean your loaded gun after you've had a couple of beers. Another dumb move: mowing the lawn in flip-flops. The first weekend of every spring, doctors see a lot of injuries."
—A podiatrist

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If you've been to the ER, you'd better know what's next.

If you've been to the ER, you'd better know what's next.iStock/Thinkstock
"If you don’t understand what you’re supposed to do when you leave the ER, ask—and ask again if necessary."
—Linda Lawrence, MD, San Antonio, Texas

Stop smoking cigarettes. Really.

Stop smoking cigarettes. Really.Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock
"If someone’s a smoker, they gotta stop. I feel sick when I talk to people who still smoke. It’s never too late to stop. Even quitting in your seventies improves survival. If patients want to do one thing for their health, it would be to stop smoking."

—Stuart Connolly, MD, director, division of cardiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario

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