How to get the most out of a GP consultation

In my experience most general practice consultations are of 3 distinct types:

  1. Requests. Regardless of any apparent simplicity, a doctor is professionally obliged to clarify the nature of your conditions and advise of any foreseeable downsides. Some administrative tasks can still take substantial amount of time due to limitations in technology, so please allow for this, and book for a longer appointment if possible. Unfortunately some requests can be declined due to health regulations, but your doctor should advise you of any appropriate alternatives.
  2. Questions. Try to remember the details of your symptom(s), especially the duration of time, a description of its character, any changes or associations, and previous treatments. Your doctor should listen to your concerns carefully and convey their impression afterwards. Either a treatment can be immediately recommended, or investigations ordered. You will be requested to return when the results are available for review. Depending on the complexity all this can already take more than a standard appointment. When patients stack on a second, or even third issue in the same consultation, there will be insufficient time for each, and poor outcomes become more likely.
  3. Internal distress. Professionally this is known as “hidden agenda”, where the initial description does not fit the true condition. This is often not deliberate but partially subconscious. If there is some self-awareness of this, have compassion for that part of yourself, and allow those thoughts to have a voice.

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