“What the fudge??” may be the first thing you think after reading the heading above, closely followed by “Being a good patient? How about you just do your job and get on with the doctoring?”
We hear you loud and clear. However, as half of the patient-doctor relationship, there’s a lot you can do to get the most from your next appointment.
Here are six super-simple tips. Taken into account, you’ll leave with the best treatment plan possible – and a little glow that you’ve made your GP’s day.
1. Fess Up Buddy
Smoke a packet a day? Tell us. Decided not to take your prescribed medication? Let us know why. Occasionally take recreational drugs?
Your secret is safe with us.
The more honest you are, the better we can determine your path to recovery – which is why you’re visiting us in the first place.
Withholding key points only hampers our ability to give you the best care.
We’re unlikely to believe you fell onto a shampoo bottle in the shower. But guess what? We don’t care how it happened – our job is to help you, no matter what the reason.
We’ve seen it all, nothing surprises us, and there’s no judgment. Just answer our questions truthfully and leave feeling proud you contributed to your diagnosis.
It may even feel good to get a few things off your chest.
2. OMG, What Is She Wearing?
It might sound silly, but the clothes you wear to an appointment can make all the difference.
Thankfully the days of dressing up to go to the doctor are long gone. We recommend wearing whatever you’re most comfortable in.
If you’re feeling hot, cold, bloated, or just plain gross, dress accordingly – there’s no fashion police here!
And a special message for the blokes – please wear some undies if you’re in shorts. It can be quite perplexing coming face to face with your todger while examining a dicky knee.
3. Don’t Believe Everything You Read
The biggest perpetrator here is Dr Google. When trying to diagnose your ailment online, you’ll only get bombarded with unverified and anxiety-inducing information.
Just don’t do it.
The same applies to tabloid news articles and social media posts. People generally only post about their medical condition or treatment when things go wrong, providing a skewed perspective.
Our time can be much better spent looking at your condition as it presents on the day, combined with your medical history.
Assuring you the internet has lied while debunking multiple online medical claims is a waste of everyone’s time.
Check out our extensive list of online health resources – all from verified, reputable organisations.
4. Excrement Is Best Left Home
As helpful as it may seem, we’d prefer you leave the jam jar with your poo, pee, or pus at home. We’ll believe you when you tell us about the crawling worms or strange odour – proof isn’t required.
The better option is to detail your symptoms during an appointment. If needed, we’ll give you a sterile jar to collect samples.
We’ll then send it to a pathologist for proper analysis – they’re experts in this kind of thing.
Your jam jars will thank you for putting them to better use.
5. It Takes More Muscles to Frown Than Smile
We get it. When you feel like crap, taking others’ feelings into account is the last thing on your mind. But treating reception staff and GPs with respect will always result in receiving better care.
Our receptionists are highly experienced and do their very best, juggling an enormous amount behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly.
So if you’re getting grumpy waiting to see your GP, please don’t blame them.
The two main reasons doctors run over time are patients:
- patients arriving late for appointments, and
- patients booking appointments that are too short for GPs to address all their health concerns..
What’s not happening is a bunch of GPs sitting around playing computer solitaire while you wait.
6. Be Your Own Doctor
Staying informed about your health is like being your own doctor. Understanding your medical history, past ailments, and current medications typically result in better healthcare outcomes.
What’s more, you’ll instantly become your GP’s new favourite patient.
Though we’re doctors, we don’t know it all. We often rely on input about your medical history and if you feel it contributes to your present health.
Taking this approach, together we’re on a much more efficient and effective path to nailing your treatment plan.
And no, we don’t want you to drop everything and spend the next eight years in medical school educating yourself on the intricacies of the human body.
Just take an interest in your health and listen to your body.
As GPs, we all feel a great sense of responsibility advising people on their health. Restless nights are common, deliberating over a tricky patient diagnosis or pondering alternative courses of action.
Considering these six tips for being a good patient, you’ll get much more from your next appointment.
Let’s work together, people!
Bonus tip: PLEASE STOP PICKING
It’s hard to diagnose your mole, pimple or skin cancer after you’ve attacked it with your fingernail or pocketknife.
As tempting as it is, leave it alone!
In times of need, your GP can work with you and your child to devise a porn addiction treatment plan and refer you to specialists if required.
Dr Elaine Sung is a renowned local GP and owner of Doctors of South Melbourne. She’s not currently seeing new patients.