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Common Medical Misconceptions

Myth: Antibiotics lower your immune system

  • Truth: Not true, antibiotics kill bacterial infection. Failure to take the complete course can breed bacteria that are immune those particular antibiotics, thus breeding resistant bacteria into the general community. It is the bacteria that become immune to that antibiotic, not you.

Myth: When we do a blood test "it tests for everything"

  • Truth: 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.

Myth: A Pap smear will detect sexually transmitted infections.

  • Truth: 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.

Myth: Pregnancy test can detect pregnancy before the missed period

  • Truth: Wrong. it is not accurate or refundable by Medicare until the period is late

Myth: Pregnancy tests always detect pregnancy

  • Truth: wrong! It takes at least 2-3 weeks from when you fall pregnant for enough pregnancy hormones to be present in the urine to be detected. 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 if suspicious you are pregnant.

Myth: Blood tests will detect cancer.

  • Truth: Mostly not true, occasional cancers e.g. leukaemia, will be detected by blood tests. Most cancers need other tests to diagnose them.

Myth: Antidepressants are addictive.

  • Truth: Not true! They merely replace the deficient levels of neurotransmitters that cause the brain dysfunction we know as depression.

Myth: Asthmatics can become dependent on their medication.

  • Truth: Not true, but they need their medication to maintain a healthy maximal level of lung function so when challenged with their usual triggers e.g. cold, flu, allergy, exercise their lung function does not drop to a dangerously low level.

Myth: The worst pills to miss on the pill are the midcycle ones.

  • Truth: 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

Myth: A negative blood test means there is no medical problem.

  • Truth: 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.

Myth: Most problems can be diagnosed in one visit.

  • Truth: Wrong! Some diseases are very difficult to diagnose and may even take years e.g. average time for 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. Few medical conditions can be diagnosed in one visit. 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 boil, 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, it's unlikely the earliest diagnosis would be made.

Myth: Doctor will ring you with results.

  • Truth: Wrong assumption! 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! It is essential you to make arrangements to obtain your results to ensure they have been received by the practice and a doctor has seen them

Myth: If I told receptionist the reason for my visit she will tell the doctor.

  • Truth: 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.

Myth: Medicare will pay for any test I want.

  • Truth: Medicare will only pay for those tests that are medically necessary. It does not pay for health screening e.g. tests on a healthy person with no symptoms.

Myth: A doctor can diagnose over the phone.

  • Truth: Unwise! No diagnosis can confidently be made over the phone. If you have symptoms, please make an appointment.

Myth: I don't need a mammogram; I have no family history.

  • Truth: Family history only accounts for 10% of women who get breast cancer. All women are at risk and annual mammograms are advised between the ages of 40-50.

Myth: I have not had sex for years. I don't need a pap.

  • Truth: If you have ever had sex in your life, or have abnormal vaginal bleeding-you need to have regular paps till age 70.

Myth: I don't have any symptoms. I don't need to see a doctor.

  • Truth: Millennium 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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