1. Say "it's all in the chart". I know it's probably all in the chart; actually, it's not ALL in the chart. Just answer the damn question.
2. Interrupt your sick mother or father, by saying what you think they are trying to say. Especially if we are talking about the serious stuff, like end of life care. Along that line, say "of course you want everything done, right dad? If there's even a little chance you could make it through, wouldn't that be worth a month in the hospital? Dad, are you listening?"
3. Show me your list of questions at the very end of the encounter, when I'm about to do the "ok, I'll see you in a few weeks"-spiel. Lists are fine, but please reveal them up front.
4. Show me any kind of pill. They all look the same to me.
5. Mention names of other doctors at other hospitals, when describing your health odyssey. Most people have an odd sense that they have been seen by the finest physicians in the universe, up to the point of having to endure a half-studied rube such as myself.
6. Say "oh yeah" stupidly, like you've so been there, at the wrong time, interrupting me. Example: "your mom is very sick. It's not really one organ that's sick. It's the way her electrolytes are out of whack; the way she is increasingly confused, and her blood pressure and heart rate are coming up and down; I think she is dying." Daughter says, "oh yeah" after "electrolytes", like she's been eyeballing that potassium for a few days and she figured it looked pretty ominous.
7. Talk about chronic stuff, when I'm asking about your acute illness. It's going to be a long day, when I ask a guy with a fever if he has been coughing, and he talks about his battle with bronchitis in May of 2001. Trick for med students and junior docs: when you see a tangent like the above coming, start examining the patient and ask "does this hurt?", while looking worried. Works every time.
8. Talk while I listen to your heart or lungs. And when I politely say "hold that thought, let me just have a quick listen", say something like "oh yeah! I guess you can't hear anything when I talk. That reminds me of the time..."
9. Breathe in but not out when I listen to your lungs. What is the deal with that? Most people get it, when I say "in and out" pointedly a few times, and yet some persist in holding their breath. I actually breathe along with patients, a la the way you open your mouth when you feed a baby, which makes it even more painful for me.
10. Ask "so what do they think is wrong with mom?". They? What do I look like? Ok, so I look like a balding, fidgety version of this guy, but still.
Otherwise, I'm, pretty easy to get along with.