For my fellow health care providers who are just starting out in the field…here’s a little guide to what people really mean when they make these statements:
- Patient: “No, that morphine didn’t help my pain. That oxycodone doesn’t work at all. The only thing that works is…gosh, I can’t remember the name. Perk…Perk…oh geez, I don’t know. It’s something they gave me in the ER…percocet?” Actual meaning: drug-seeking
- Patient: “I was carrying my bottle of MS Contin in my purse and then someone robbed me! They stole my purse and my entire month of pills!” Actual meaning: drug seeking
- Patient: “I use my inhalers every day.” Me: “Well, both of them are expired and they’re full of crumbs. How did that happen?” Patient: “Well, I don’t know. I use them every day.” Actual meaning: I haven’t used those inhalers since 2007!
- Patient: “I’m using my insulin every day” Me: “Hmm, your blood sugar is 400 today…which is the same as it was before we put you on insulin.” Patient: “It’s not working!” Actual meaning: I hate the idea of insulin and I’ve never actually used it at home
- Patient, in response to domestic violence screening: “Oh, my husband is a little jealous. You know, possessive.” Actual meaning: my husband is abusive and I’ve been completely isolated from my friends and support network
- Patient, in response to the question ‘How come you decided to stop your medication?’: “God will decide if I live or die. Solomente Dios sabe.” Actual meaning: I’m not convinced that what you’re telling me is true. Why should I follow your advice?
- Patient: “I don’t like to take pills. I’m not going to take them.” Actual meaning: That about sums it up.