Only Human | Podcast Review | October 23, 2015 | By

Only Human: “Patients and Doctors Fess Up”

Doctors are ultimately, well, only human, they smoke, eat hamburgers, and occasionally “forget” to exercise.

Early on, Mary asked listeners to call in with secrets and confessions that are health-related. The example she gave  was the woman who brushed her teeth obsessively, sometimes for up to a few hours at a time.  I wasn’t sure how successful this invitation would be, to be totally honest. But, true to the Love + Radio episode reviewed last week for Podcast Perusal, confessing a secret—particularly anonymously—releases a lot of tension and stress. Most of us have known this to be true.

This episode, accordingly, focuses entirely on confessions—from patients, doctors, the Only Human team… One of the main patient confessions discussed was a man who refused to tell his family or doctor the extent of his history of seizures for the sake of holding onto his driver’s license, which would be revoked if the seizures were officially on his record. Which, as you might suspect, was interesting. That said, I would have enjoyed a discussion about whether or not the patient considered the potential repercussions on others’ lives if he were to have a seizure on the road, which could have led to a greater discussion about why public health policy is in place. It felt like an odd absence.

The confessions of doctors were also fascinating. Since doctors are ultimately, well, only human, they smoke, eat hamburgers, and occasionally “forget” to exercise. Apparently, they are also taught in medical school to expect their patients to lie a little bit. I enjoyed the segment because it explained that doctors—or at least those Mary spoke with—neither judge the patient for their responses, nor do they judge the patients for, uh, slightly fabricating the truth. The show also covered the recent publication in the Annals of Internal Medicine about medical students who had witnessed abhorrent behavior and activities from their supervisors. The stories specifically are quite graphic (I’d recommend listening to the episode if you’d like an example) but essentially there was a lot of bystander behavior guilt.

This one definitely hits the “Listen to This” episode threshold for a number of reasons, not the least of which is hearing just how insensitive certain doctors could be. I think though, that this episode could have gone a little bit deeper into explaining why they think they need to have a ‘confessions’ segment—the word ‘confession’ implies ‘guilt’ about a certain things in their lives, things that patients might not, necessarily, fully discuss with their doctor. It would have been interesting to look deeper into why that is, and what—if anything—can be done to help improve communication.

Check out “Patients and Doctors Fess Up” on Only Human‘s site.

About the Author

Annie Ungrady is a writer at Audiologue, where she writes a weekly column called Podcast Perusal with her impressions of classic podcast and radio episodesYou can email her at

This post is available under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives license. That means you can republish this post and others on the site for free, as long as you credit Audiologue and the author in accordance with our republishing guidelines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *