Common Medical Misconceptions

  • Antibiotics lower your immune system – not true, antibiotics kill bacterial infection. Failure to take the complete course can breed bacteria that are immune to those particular antibiotic, thus breeding resistant bacteria into the general community. It is the bacteria that become immune to that antibiotic, not you. Antibiotics are only required for bacterial infections and not viral infections.
  • When we do a blood test “it tests for everything” – not true. Blood tests are requested for individual items relevant to your symptoms and the history you have given us. It does not test for cancer, HIV or your blood group routinely.
  • A Pap smear will detect sexually transmitted infections. Wrong! We will test for sexually transmitted infections by taking an additional test (swabs) if you give us a history of multiple partners, or request it. It is not done routinely. Blood tests are required to test for HIV, Hep B, Hep C and syphilis. Other STD’s require urine and vaginal samples.
  • Pregnancy tests always detect pregnancy – wrong! It takes at least 2-3 weeks from when you fall pregnant for enough pregnancy hormone to be present in the urine to be detected reliably. If the urine is dilute or not a first morning specimen it may also give a false negative result or if a pregnancy is in a fallopian tube rather than the uterus (ectopic), a lower level of pregnancy hormone than normal is present and may take longer to reach a detectable level. Always repeat the test in a week if suspicious you are pregnant.
  • Blood tests will detect cancer. Mostly not true, occasional cancers eg leukaemia, will be detected by blood tests. Most cancers need other tests to diagnose them.
  • Antidepressants are addictive. Not true! They merely replace the deficient levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin) that cause the brain dysfunction we know as depression.
  • Asthmatics can become dependant on their medication. Not true, but they need their medication to maintain a healthy maximal level of lung function so when challenged with their usual triggers eg cold, flu, allergy, exercise their lung function does not drop to a dangerously low level.
  • The worst pills to miss on the pill are the mid-cycle ones. Wrong! Any missed pill is a risk but the worst pills to miss are at the active pills at either end of the sugar pills. You are safe for the whole time unless you miss a pill when you are unsafe for the next week and if you miss pills in the 7 days leading up to the sugars you should skip the sugars that month and go straight on to the active pills in the next pack
  • A negative blood test means there is no medical problem. Not true! It merely means we need to look again with different tests to make the diagnosis. This is why you need to return for follow up even if initial blood tests are normal and symptoms are present. Diagnosis is a step by step process.
  • Most problems can be diagnosed in one visit. Wrong! Some diseases are very difficult to diagnose and may even take years e.g. average time to diagnosis of Crohns disease is 3 years and Acromegaly is 11 years! It may take time for all the pieces of the medical diagnostic jigsaw to emerge. This is why having a regular doctor to go through the diagnostic process with is so important otherwise pieces of the diagnostic jigsaw are lost and may delay your particular diagnosis. E.g. patient seen 1/99 with thrush, seen again 4/99 with a abscess, doctor is alerted to fact these two symptoms may signal diabetes but only one visit alone of either of these symptoms would not warrant testing for diabetes, only the combination does so if this patient is seen at the one practice it is likely diabetes will be tested for, but if at different practices, its unlikely the earliest diagnosis would be made.
  • Doctor will ring you with results. Wrong assumption! Check with the DR how you are to receive results. Doctors see 150+ patients / week. A 3-min phone-call to each patient would take 8 hours! It is your responsibility to obtain your results! We have introduced dedicated nurse run results line for you to get your results. 
  • If I told the receptionist the reason for my visit she will tell the doctor. Wrong assumption! The appointment sheet is no place for recording patients’ personal medical details. You need to tell the doctor yourself why you have come.
  • A doctor can diagnose over the phone. Not entirely true. No diagnosis can confidently be made over the phone. If you have symptoms, please make an appointment. ON some occasions when just advice is needed , consultations can be done over the phone via telehealth.
  • I don’t need a mammogram; I have no family history. Wrong! Family history only accounts for 5% of women who get breast cancer. All women are at risk and mammograms are advised from age 40 but younger women need to also be checking their breasts monthly and report any changes in symptoms ASAP. 90 % of breast lumps are benign on testing.
  • I have not had sex for years. I don’t need a pap. If you have ever had sex in your life, or have abnormal vaginal bleeding-you need to have paps till age 70. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus you catch from having sex. It may take 20-30+ years for the cancer to develop. There is a vaccine now to help prevent cervical cancer.
  • I don’t have any symptoms. I don’t need to see a doctor. MedOne health care is about prevention. Your need to see a doctor at least annually for your life extending preventive care activities to be done. We recommend annual medicals for all over 40 (not Medicare refundable).

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