How to get the most out of an appointment with your family doctor
Before the pandemic, it was literally about seeing patients. Since COVID, all doctors have had to adapt to restrictions, which means consultations are now a mix of face-to-face, video and phone calls.
While this was certainly challenging, this face-to-face interaction between doctor and patient is the hallmark of our profession.
As general practitioners, we are in a unique position to accompany patients through various ailments, often building lasting and positive relationships with individuals, families and even communities.
The focus is on the 10-minute consultation, which often goes beyond what is necessary to get to the desired end point.
I would like to share what I believe constitutes a good consultation – one in which both the doctor and the patient are disconnected from the content of the experience and understand the next steps.
When you visit your GP office, it helps to have a clear opening statement, unless they called you in.
We know that going to the doctor can often be intimidating, but if you can briefly describe your symptoms, the consultation starts off well.
Be realistic about how many problems can be solved in a consultation. While it can be difficult to get an appointment with your GP, saving multiple issues isn’t ideal. You may be sitting on something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. It can also mean that you don’t have the time to give all your problems the attention they deserve.
Please be polite and courteous and it will be rewarded. Although most medical facilities recommend a zero-tolerance policy, it is not uncommon for both administrative staff and doctors to experience verbal abuse. Occasionally this escalates to physical violence.
That’s never okay, no matter the severity of your illness. It is surprising and disturbing that most patient abuse is experienced by those working in general medicine, accident and emergency practices.
When your doctor asks what you’re worried about, it’s not to be taken lightly. Nor is it an indication that they don’t know what’s going on. Today, it’s more common than ever for patients to research their symptoms online and still come to a conclusion that doesn’t match the actual diagnosis. If your family doctor knows your fears, he can research them comprehensively together with you.
Although certain media campaigns suggest that you shouldn’t show your feelings in front of a doctor, that’s not true.
General practitioners – and actually all doctors – are people. They are a far cry from the actors in white coats and stiff collars portrayed in 1950s movies.
When they ask you how this is affecting you, they really want to know if you are coping and if you have enough support in your area.
When your GP checks your understanding, please do not say “yes” when you really mean “no”. He or she will be happy to explain it to you again, perhaps from a slightly different angle.
If you don’t like the idea of a plan or suggested treatment, speak up too. Gone are the days of paternalistic medicine, when the doctor told the story and the patient did. We are now in a time where doctors and patients work together to achieve the best outcome.
However, if your GP suggests that you do not need a particular treatment, please take this into account. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. It is the bugs that become resistant, not the individual. You still get sick.
Bringing a friend or loved one to a counseling session is perfectly acceptable, and it can actually be helpful.
You often remember certain things that you want to say but forget at the moment.
However, many family members can distract both you and the doctor. Many counseling rooms are not designed to accommodate multiple people, and often multiple voices can drive off-street counseling.
Finally, please try to be on time. Although certain factors cannot be taken into account, GPs are expected to show up on time on a very busy day. If you’re going to be late, it helps to acknowledge it with a simple apology.
In conclusion, it is heartwarming to note that GPs are one of the most respected professions and that many patients truly hold us in their hearts, just as we do with them and their families.
dr Zak Uddin, general practitioner
https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/23539226.get-appointment-gp/?ref=rss How to get the most out of an appointment with your family doctor