Doctors Reveal the Annoying Things They Wish You Wouldn’t Do

From smelly feet to overbearing parents, the surprising things that annoy doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care professionals.

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Complain about other doctors

"Your complaints about your prior doctor will not endear you to us. The more you say, the less we want to deal with you."
—Allen Roberts, MD, an emergency room doctor

Here's how to find a doctor you like (according to doctors).


"If I can’t reach your doctor and/or insurance company to approve a refill, there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s frustrating, but I’d be breaking the law in some states if I gave it to you."
—Daniel Zlott, a pharmacist at the National Institutes of Health

Here are some other behaviors that make you seem like a jerk.

Harass us when we're out of the office

"Don’t ask me medical questions about your child when you see me at the grocery store, pool, or library. When I’m out with my kids, I just want to be a mom."
—A pediatrician

Learn how to make the most of your doctor's appointments so you don't need to pepper them with questions outside the office.

Ask too many questions

DoctorLOGVINYUK YULIIA/Shutterstock
"When one extremely hostile relative bombarded me every time I walked in, I developed a tendency not to go in the room. If you have three pages full of questions, show them to the nurse. Say ‘How many of these should I wait to ask the doctor about? How many can you help me with?’”
—General surgeon who blogs under the name Skeptical Scalpel

Condescend to a nurse

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Close-up Of Doctor Measuring Patients Blood Pressure With Stethoscope; Shutterstock ID 416637259

"The No. 1 thing you should never say to me: 'You're too smart to be a nurse.' I went to nursing school because I wanted to be a nurse, not because I wanted to be a doctor and didn't make it."
—A longtime nurse in Texas

Here are some more secrets nurses wish you knew.

Eat stinky foods before an appointment

"Don’t eat a heavy garlic lunch before coming to see us. We’d appreciate that."
—Jennifer Jablow, DDS

Learn which foods are some of the worst culprits for bad breath.

Pretend to be clueless

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"Don't ask if I'll take a 'quick look' at the sibling who doesn't have an appointment. If your mom went with you to the gynecologist, would you ever say, 'Doc, would you mind putting her on the table and giving her a quick look?' Every patient deserves a full evaluation."
—A pediatrician

Here are some other secrets pediatricians won't tell you.

Exaggerate symptoms

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"If you're happily texting and laughing with your friends until the second you spot me walking into your room, I'm not going to believe that your pain is a ten out of ten."
—A nurse in New York City

The amount of pain you're experiencing is definitely one of the things you should never lie to your doctor about.

Not clean up before your visit

"Please wash your feet before you come see me. And change your socks—I can tell if you've worn the same ones for three days."
—A podiatrist

Here are some secrets your feet can reveal about your health.

Blab on your cell

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"It makes me crazy when visitors wander around talking on their cell phones. You’re being annoying.
—Joan Somes, RN, an emergency room nurse

Here are some more cell phone behaviors that annoy the people around you.

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