WHAT DO I DO?
Most GP appointments last an average of ten to fifteen minutes – so by the time you've walked in, said hello, explained why you're there and been examined, there's not a lot of time left for small talk. Research suggests most people only remember a maximum of three facts from a consultation and many leave having forgotten to ask a key question.
Use the following tips to make the most out of time with your doctor.
- Make a list of any questions, problems or symptoms you want to discuss before you see your GP or practice nurse.
- Tell your doctor about any non-prescription medicines or supplements you are taking, so write these down beforehand.
- Take a pen and paper with you to the appointment to note down any points you might otherwise forget.
- If you are anxious about seeing your doctor, you can bring a family member or friend with you for support. If you need an interpreter, be sure to let the receptionist at the practice know in advance, they may be able to help.
During the appointment
- Don't be afraid to ask questions! If you don't understand something, ask your doctor to repeat it or write it down.
- If medication is prescribed for you, make sure you know why it's been given to you and how long to take it for.
- If you forget to do this at the time, pharmacists are experts in medication and a very helpful source of advice.
- Be direct: if you have a problem that you find difficult to discuss, don't wait until the end of the appointment.
- No matter how embarrassing you think your problem is, your GP will have heard it many times before.
End of the appointment
Make sure that at the end of a consultation all your questions have been answered and you understand -
- How your health is and anything that might be a problem
- If you need any medical tests
- If there is new medication or treatment what the intended benefits are
- What happens next
After the appointment
- Follow up on any additional appointments and get any test results
- Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. If you find you are confused about what you should do when you get home, call the doctor's office and ask for clarification.
- When you pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to review them in detail. Make certain you understand why you are taking the drug, when you should take it, how much to take, and how it should be taken, for example, should you take the medicine by mouth, with food, on an empty stomach, etc.
- Take medications as directed. Follow medication dosages precisely. Taking more of a medication could be dangerous; taking less could delay its effect.
- Tell your healthcare provider about any adverse side effects to your medication or if your condition doesn't improve or gets worse.
Finally, make any lifestyle changes your healthcare provider recommends, such as to stop smoking, eating healthy, and regularly being active. Your nurse may provide a plan that that you and the nurse have worked out together.
Teaming up with your pharmacist
Your pharmacist can help answer questions about your medications. You may not be familiar with what your pharmacist can do for you.
Pharmacists do much more than count tablets and pour liquids. They can focus on the medications you take and the effect they have. Pharmacists want to help you get the most benefit when you take medicines.
TESTS: Blood and urine (passing water) tests