How to maximise your GP visit

Lots of things to talk about but not enough time? Here's how to make the most of those important few minutes.

1. Arrive on time

Yes, we know—GPs often run late but make sure you’re not the patient who causes the delay. And if you’re getting your blood pressure checked, skip the caffeine and pitch up with enough time to sit for ten to 15 minutes to ensure a more accurate reading.

 

2. Make separate appointments for separate issues

Don’t, for example, talk about your concerns about your mother’s memory when you’ve booked an appointment to check out your worsening headaches. Your doctor can’t deal with such distinct complaints in that all-too-short tenminute appointment.

 

3. Talk about the important stuff first

Don’t make an appointment for a rash when really you’re worried about a suspicious lump. It’s frustrating for your GP to spend time counselling you on eczema, hand-washing and creams, only to have you say, “By the way, I think I have a lump in my breast”, at the last minute. Focus on the most important point; the rest can wait.

 

4. List your symptoms 

To make sure you don’t forget something that could give an important clue as to what might be wrong with you, make a note of the different symptoms. Jot down how they change in a 24- hour period. If they come and go over time, keep a diary.

 

5. Explain what you want

If you want to be referred to a specialist, say so. If you think your medication should be changed, point it out. Never be rude, but always be clear where you can. And ask your GP to explain clearly too.

 

6. Follow up on tests

It’s tempting to think that if there’s a problem, the surgery will get in touch. But communication can break down, so make sure you’re proactive about calling for results of blood tests or other investigations, or making an appointment to find out if any further tests are necessary.

 

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