In this episode I talk through how to getting the most out of the limited time slot you get with your family doctor.
PART I - PREPARING THE HISTORY
Preparation is key when it comes to seeing your doctor. Take a moment in the waiting room to think about your problem. You might want to think about how it started, is it getting better or worse, are there any triggers, is there anything associated with it. Take a think about any solutions that you may have tried. All too often, nothing is done by patients, but sometimes trying a solution such as an anti-inflammatory medication for knee pain, can help the doctor to work out the diagnosis. If you’re forgetful it might be worthwhile bringing in a list of symptoms for your problem. It may be that you have more than one problem, if this is the case, inform your doctor at the start of the consult to work out which is the priority problem and which can be reviewed at a later time if time does not permit.
PART II - PREPARING FOR EXAMINATION
Now that you have succinctly and coherently put across your problem, your doctor may then interact with you through a number of ways. They may ask you questions whilst you are talking to help keep the conversation on track and to obtain any important salient details about your problem, aiding them with their thought process. Your doctor may then wish to perform an examination. Sometimes this is not always necessary, however if you suspect an examination may be required it’s important to consider this during your preparation. For example, if you have knee pain, your doctor may need to examine your knee, so think about how easy it will be to access your knee with your attire. It might be that you are coming in for an intimate examination, and for this you may need to prepare appropriately with washing or attire.
Once your doctor has performed an examination they may request some further tests, this could take the form of blood tests or radiology to name a few. In these situations, results can take around 2-3 days and you may be required to return at a later date. In some situations like this, the doctor may be unable to give you a diagnosis straight away and so your patience is appreciated. You could use the opportunity of having to return as a time to reflect on your problem and think about whether you have missed anything or want to clarify something with the doctor. Following on from this, be sure to check your understanding at the end of every consultation. Sometimes doctors use medical language or jargon, that is hard to understand. As a habit, I always go through reports or results with picture aids to ensure patient understanding. Generally, if you ask your doctor for clarification on something, they will be happy to help.
Finally, know that the doctor has your back. Remember the doctor has taken a hippocratic oath to do you no harm and to provide you with the best form of treatment that is suitable for your condition. You should generally seek advice from your primary medical practitioner as they know your history well. However, if you feel uncertain about something the doctor has said or you want a second opinion, it is ok to do this. Most of the time, the management will be the same as your usual doctor, which helps to reinforce and reassure the patient-doctor relationship. However, on very rare occasions, I, as a second opinion doctor have found there to be outliers, where I have changed the management to save lives. This goes back to preparation, very often when you see the second opinion doctor, you may have a better understanding of your problem and so when you portray your symptoms for a second time, it may lead the doctor in a different direction.
Medical Centre Tour: https://youtu.be/4DitUGWWBSg
Doctor in Paradise: https://youtu.be/pmTRtyyJ3OY
Rural GP: https://youtu.be/g3zpI-D1k94
Urban GP: https://youtu.be/HH_9i0M2xAI
Thanks for watching, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.
Take care and stay healthy,
Dr Nora 💉
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The information provided in this video is not a substitute for getting individualised advice by an accredited healthcare professional.