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    "I Might Judge You In My Head": Healthcare Providers Are Sharing Secrets From Their Jobs

    "I work in a dental office, and 99% of the time as soon as you let us know you haven’t been to the dentist in years, we automatically plan a deep cleaning. You go from $99 for a basic cleaning to $500–$1,000 for the deep cleaning."

    Recently, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to anonymously share secrets of their jobs. Healthcare workers came through with really enlightening things about their professions.

    1. "I work for a major hospital operating room. There is so much money wasted in a surgery that is billed to the patient all because the surgeon probably wanted to try a new product and then changed their mind at the last minute. The moment you open the packaging for any materials like gloves, sutures, or equipment, that gets added to the bill. Even if you didn’t use it."

    "At the end of surgery, anything that is open is thrown in the trash because it’s considered 'unsterile,' regardless of whether you use it. This is why your bill adds up. They charge the patient for throwing away supplies."

    a surgeon reaching for tools on a table

    2. "ER wait times on the big billboards and online are BS. That is the time you have to wait to see the triage nurse who determines how quickly you need to be seen. It could say seven minutes, and it will still be three hours before you see an actual doctor."

    ER waiting time sign

    3. "I use to work as a dental assistant many years ago. One day we had so many patients that we ran out of disinfected dental tools. The dentist told me to just spray Lysol on the used dental tools and bring them into the patient's room."

    a kid getting his teeth cleaned

    4. "Most women push out poop when they are delivering their babies. As nurses we quickly change out the pad and put a fresh one down. If you ask us if you pooped during delivery we will tell you no even if you did because we know how embarrassing women think this is. As nurses it doesn’t even phase us. It’s a common part of the job."

    a woman in labor

    5. "Headed for plastic surgery? Elective or reconstructive? Doesn’t matter. How you treat the front and back office staff comes back to the doctor, and if you are rude, demanding, or frequently reschedule last minute, you are going to get a higher quote for your surgery, and you won’t know about that promo that could’ve saved you $75, $200, or over $600 just by coming in for Botox and fillers."

    tools on a table

    6. "I’m a mental health therapist. I’m human, so I might judge you in my head. But I do everything I can (supervision, consultation, working on myself and my own implicit biases) so that I won’t. And even if I am judging you, I’ll never voice it because it’s unhelpful and what I want most is to help you."

    a woman writing notes and talking to a man

    7. "When you call a doctor’s office for an urgent visit, don’t be embarrassed to explain what’s going on. The person answering the phone may not be the doctor, but he or she has had training and has likely heard it all before."

    "Sometimes, you are better off heading to the hospital, but if you don’t explain yourself, you may be delaying proper treatment. 'A pain down there' can be an STI or it can be a necrotizing sickle cell crisis that can kill a penis (for real)."

    a medical worker on the phone and typing on a computer

    8. "I’m a pharmacy technician. If you are awful on the phone or in person, every employee has the ability to put a note in your profile about how awful you are/were. The note comes up every time we fill a prescription for you and every time we pull up your profile."

    pharmacists in a pharmacy

    9. "I am a pharmacy technician, and I am always amazed at how often doctors will prescribe medication and NOT TELL THE PATIENT what it is supposed to do. They also will prescribe medicines and not tell the patient that it is very expensive even after their insurance."

    "What I can tell people though is that we feel very, very bad when we have to tell you that your new medication is not covered by your insurance. We will offer other ways to try and get it cheaper, but if the insurance says no, unfortunately there is very little we can do."

    shelf full of medications

    10. "I work for a large national clinical laboratory, and the most important part of this company is where they intake the samples for testing. Most of the facilities hire for production, not knowledge or common sense, and whatever training is provided comes from people who were promoted for attitude, not aptitude."

    "The standard operating procedures that are necessary are never followed. This means that human samples meant for diagnostic testing are sometimes mishandled with breathtaking ineptitude or lost internally on a regular basis."

    "But there is a policy wherein there are 'acceptable' percentages of these issues, as per corporate. It’s disgusting that a sample that was taken from a sick child can be compromised and the person who did it is still able to stay employed, even though they will do it again and again."

    a person working in a lab

    11. "I used to work as a physical therapist in the Philippines. We spend a lot of time with patients treating them. Often patients get too cozy and tell you secrets like their affairs, infidelity, and other very personal stuff. I just shut up and listen. I don't talk about it with other people. If I need to use it as an example in class, I just hide their real name, age, address, and other identifying info."

    a physical therapist working with a patient

    12. "Therapist here. Most of the time you will not be told your primary diagnosis, especially if it’s a personality disorder, like borderline or antisocial. This allows us to treat you more effectively by focusing on your problematic symptoms or behaviors, rather than spending session after session arguing with you about why we, the trained professionals, are wrong."

    "Many times clients who are unhappy with their diagnosis will 'shrink shop' until they find a clinician who will just give them the diagnosis they want. When this happens, the new clinician will receive our clinical notes, which are written in such a way that only a trained professional knows how to read between the lines to understand the true diagnosis and red flag behaviors such as manipulation, pathological lying, or boundary crossing."

    a therapist taking notes

    13. "I work in an outpatient therapy clinic. When receiving physical, occupational, or speech therapy as an outpatient, be sure to check if your insurance benefits are limited to a certain number of visits per year. If this is the case, make sure your therapist is aware so that we can make the most of your benefits by giving longer appointment times in fewer visits per week."

    "Doing this will stretch your visits out over several weeks/months of healing time, instead of using them up right away and being left without care in the later stages of healing. Even if doctors recommend a frequency and duration in your therapy orders, we can often tweak that ourselves as long as we can justify that we are seeing your condition progress."

    "Also, do your home exercise program that we assign. We will know by the gains your are making, or the lack thereof. If for some reason you cannot do your home exercises, let us know so that we can try to make it more manageable for you. We understand that life happens, but attending therapy a few times a week is much more effective if you are doing your part at home, and we want to help you on your road to healing!"

    a physical therapist working with a patient

    14. "Most dentists will either over treat (do filling on teeth with starting decay, which is something that can be arrested by good oral hygiene, or do root canals on teeth that just need fillings, etc.) or under treat (ignore a decay that needs treatment like a filling because they can make more money when the tooth becomes decayed enough to need a root canal and crown)."

    a person's mouth being held open by plastic tools

    15. "Licensed professional therapist. Your stories impact us deeply; we can sit there calm with a gentle smile on our face, walk you out, schedule your next appointment, close the door, and dissolve into a puddle of tears. Then we pick ourselves up, drink some water, and do it again. And we know when you are lying. Remember we are basically human lie detectors."

    a lie detector

    16. "Hospital employees go to work sick all the time. We aren't able to call out sick more than a couple times a year, so we come in with high fevers, vomiting, the flu, anything."

    a medical worker sitting down with their head down

    17. "I work in a dental office, and 99% of the time as soon as you let us know you haven’t been to the dentist in years, we automatically plan a deep cleaning. You go from $99 for a basic cleaning to $500–$1,000 for the deep cleaning. Some people actually need it, but others don’t."

    someone smiling with food in their teeth

    18. "I’m a mental health therapist. I’ve had clients from all walks of life, and I’ve witnessed firsthand how no one has a life anywhere near perfect. That family or couple on social media that causes intense feelings of envy in you? They have infidelity and hopelessness in their closet."

    "That high school peer who now has it all? He’s secretly struggling with addiction. That neighbor who’s always so happy and perfectly put together? She suffers from depression and prior suicide attempts. Do not compare yourself to others because you’re only comparing yourself to the false image others portray to the world."

    photographs of the same person with different expressions edited together

    19. "I am a nurse. Prior to COVID, staffing issues were already an issue, but now they are appalling... We have been told not to mention short staffing to families/patients to not worry them. But it’s terrifying."

    a medical worker with bruises on her face from her mask and glasses

    20. "I’m an expert microbiologist, and there are so many different variables that go into lab results that could give you inaccurate results, like type of technology, equipment manufacturer, reagent handling, user experience/error, cross contamination, training level, protocol used, etc., etc."

    "If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself and get a second opinion with a different lab and ask for more information about each test. If they aren’t using a newer, more accurate technology, identify what is the most reliable and call around to find out who can do it. Don’t fall victim to a false negative or false positive!"

    people working in a lab

    21. "I worked in senior care for over 20 years, overseeing CNA’s. Yes, there are some who are lazy and don’t really care about your loved one, but the VAST majority are the hardest working, most caring individuals you can imagine!"

    "They are underpaid for the amount of physical labor they do that puts their own bodies at risk and the level of disrespect and abuse they receive from residents and their families. They become very attached to the people they care for and grieve when they are gone."

    "I’ve seen them stay overnight when a snowstorm meant they might not be able to make it in the next morning just to ensure we weren’t understaffed and working around the clock if we were."

    a tired medical worker

    If you have a secret from your job that you just can't wait to get off your chest, tell us in the comments below or in this completely anonymous Google form for your submission to possibly be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post.

    Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.