For several factors, patients lie. Mostly, they are just too ashamed to say the facts. They may be fearful of being judged or want to stop being scolded and lectured for failing to obey their treatment plan. Others, on the other hand, are terrified of the seriousness of their diseases. Whatever the cause, it is a nurse's responsibility to know how to spot a lie in order to ensure a patient's welfare.

Here are some of the easiest ways to say if your patient is lying if you're ever in question.

Always Inquire 

While there is no surefire way to say whether a patient is lying, you should always look for subtle verbal and nonverbal cues. Consider the act of questioning.

If you ask your patient a question, and he takes a long time to answer, there's a fair chance he's lying. This is frequently the case for patients who are disobedient. Inquire on how much time and how much they work out. Your patient is most likely not following his prescribed workout regimen if they can't give you a definitive response right away.

It can also help if you show some skepticism, but be careful not to come across as pessimistic. People are pushed to lie by powers beyond their control. One of them is financial considerations. When a person's disability checks are about to run out, he will neglect to fill his prescriptions. If your patient has recently lost his job, he may be unable to attend as many counseling sessions as he would like.

Another thing to consider is your geographical position. There are politically conservative nations, and there are states that do not share your ideals. Women in conservative areas, for example, are less likely to reveal that they have had their pregnancies terminated for fear of social ridicule.

Look for Indicators

Some patients have become so used to lying that they can fabricate responses in a moment. This type of patient is more difficult to manage, particularly if they don't see anything wrong with their behavior.

Looking for signals is one of the best things you can do. Much of the time, patients like this are so worried about the reality that they display guilty body language, no matter how comfortable they are with lying.

  • For lying patients, the first thing you'll note is their eye movements. They'll avoid direct eye contact on purpose. They are orally fabricating a lie if their eyes always turn to the left side. If they're turning to the right, it's because they're trying to remember something.
  • Detecting Deception: You should also pay attention to hand movements. It's likely that patients who clench or place their hands in their pockets to cover their hands are lying. Patients who tell the truth are at ease showing their hands.
  • Lips that are tense and pursed may also show deception. Patients that cover their mouths while speaking are in the same boat. It's an unspoken bid to conceal their deceit.
  • Pay attention to how the patients communicate. No stuttering or stammering should be present. Pitch and speed should be tested. Patients that lie have a higher pitch and can talk more rapidly and in detail. They'll divulge more information than is needed to make their stories credible.

Aside from obvious hints, you should determine your patient's overall body language. You'll find that he sweats and trembles more than normal if he's lying. He'll also possibly adopt a defensive posture, such as crossing his arms and moving away from you.

How to Handle Dishonest Patients 

The majority of the time, patients lie. Despite their prevalence, nurses should never put up with them. Indulging in their lies will lead them to believe that their lies will have no effect on their wellbeing and care.

Here are some examples of how you can deal with patients who are lying:

1. When it comes to dealing with patients who lie, direct confrontation is frequently recommended. You have the authority to warn them of the consequences of their lies, especially if they are life-threatening. Explain to your patients that if their current treatment strategies are ineffective, the next steps will be more aggressive and costly.

Instill in them the value of preventive treatment. Make sure they understand how sticking to their current care plan will help them avoid more severe problems and complications.

Many patients with high blood pressure don't understand why they need to take their medications, particularly if they aren't having any symptoms. They'll tell you they've been taking their drugs on a regular basis, even though they haven't. These patients are likely to be the same ones who have a stroke or heart attack a few months later.

2. It's also a good idea to have your patients sign a contract promising not to seek out similar drugs from other health care providers, especially if they're abusing drugs. Let them agree to only see one doctor.

3. Interrogate your patient. If your patient is lying, he will have a difficult time concluding the tale. Ask high-risk, relevant questions, but be careful not to come across as judgmental. If patients feel ridiculed, cornered, or embarrassed, they are more likely to withdraw.

4. If you encounter a patient who lies frequently, it's a good idea to conduct a more thorough examination. While some patients lie for petty reasons, others lie because of serious mental illnesses.

Patients with Munchausen Syndrome, for example, are susceptible to lying in order to gain attention. They makeup lies and even create conditions in order to get a false diagnosis. They will use immunosuppressants and insulin shots before the test to induce side effects or prolong treatment.

Malingering patients lie on purpose in order to receive external benefits such as not needing to work or receiving insurance and pensions. People who suffer from Somatization disorder, on the other hand, have disproportionate responses to physical symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. This condition is related to cases of sexual assault as well as mental illness. Nurses must be able to spot a lie in order to protect these patients from further damage.


April 5, 2021

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person

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