How To Use Your Doctor Effectively

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

Every week thousands of people put off going for a medical examination because they’re too anxious or shy. But putting off a visit to the doctors because you’re suffering from "pre-examination nerves" could be dangerous. So, here’s my advice on how to get the best out of a visit to the doctor.

1. Don’t delay. If you have a problem which is worrying you make an appointment straight away – and make sure that you see your doctor as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more you’ll worry – and the worse things could get. If you think your problem is urgent insist on having an appointment today or tomorrow. If the receptionist claims that the doctor cannot fit you in then ask for a home visit. My guess is that a surgery appointment will suddenly become available.
2. Be prepared for a physical examination. Would you be happy if a car mechanic tried to repair your car engine without lifting the bonnet? Dress in clothes you can get in and out of quickly. Stockings are usually easier than tights. Zips are quicker than buttons.
3. Don’t worry about embarrassing or shocking your doctor. There is nothing you can tell your doctor that will shock him. Every week thousands of women who have ‘trouble down below’ walk in to the surgery, complain of a minor skin rash or a swollen vein and walk out without saying what is really on their minds!
4. Make up your mind beforehand what you want to tell your doctor. Write down a list of your important signs, symptoms, complaints and worries. Women who have not yet gone through the menopause should take along details of their last few periods.
5. Don’t be startled or offended by questions your doctor asks. If you have a discharge your doctor will want to know how long you’ve had it and what it looks like. If you have a gynaecological or urological problem, questions about your sex life are routine.
6. Decide beforehand what questions you want to ask your doctor – and what you want him to do. And remember that it is part of your doctor’s job to explain things to you. If you’ve seen a hospital doctor and haven’t understood what he’s said, ask your own family doctor to interpret the medical jargon for you.
7. Your doctor will write down what you tell him. It makes sense for you to write down everything that he tells you – particularly if he is giving you advice or instructions.
8. If at the end of the consultation you aren’t happy then ask for a second opinion. If your own doctor refuses point blank to refer you for a second opinion then I suggest that you change doctors.

Taken from How to Stop Your Doctor Killing You by Vernon Coleman (available as a paperback and an eBook on Amazon).

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2019