It might surprise you to know that most diagnoses are made based on the history of the symptoms, in other words, the story you give us. We’ll ask questions to prompt your story, but basically, it’s what you tell us that gives us the most information – more even than examining you or doing tests (although these can be important too).
So the quality and accuracy of the information you give us is extremely important – and it really pays to think about it before you walk into your doctor’s office.
Think about how long its been going on for, anything that you think may have brought it on, makes it worse (or better), what you’ve tried so far if anything and so on. Make sure you bring it up first thing, so your GP has plenty of time in the consultation to try and get to the bottom of the problem. It’s normal and quite common for people to start off with a seemingly “small” problem, like a sore throat, to check out whether they feel comfortable with this doctor, before bringing up the real issue. You may not be aware of the time that has already passed, so that actually, you may leave the real problem to the end of the consultation. And the real problem deserves much more than a rushed few minutes, so bring it up right at the start if you can.
- Be an informed consumer! If you are given a diagnosis, find out as much as you can about it from a trusted source. This doesn’t necessarily mean going home and googling your condition – Professor Google doesn’t know everything and there is some whacky stuff out there. Ask your doctor for more information or if they can recommend where you can go on the web and/ or suggest books you could read on the subject. Have a look at our links page, these are sites we think are useful and trustworthy. The more you know, the better placed you will be to make decisions on your treatment
- If you have more than one problem you want addressed, make a list beforehand and bring it with you. Let your doctor know what is on your list and then you and your doctor can decide which one or two are the most important that can be looked at today, and leave the others for another day. Make another appointment if necessary.
- Think about and write down any questions you might have. It’s important that all your questions are answered if possible – its very easy to forget things, especially when your doctor is asking you questions that might distract you, so write them down beforehand.
- Bring someone with you if you think you might not remember everything the doctor says – write it down or ask the doctor to write it down for you.
- If you are visiting our practice for the first time, make sure you bring with you any relevant xrays, blood test results, specialist letters, copies of your medical records that you may have. If you don’t have these, try and remember when and where you had these done so we can track down copies. Bring a list of your medications, including complementary medicines you may be taking or have tried.