How To Make The Most Of Your Medical Appointment

When it comes to getting doctors and specialist appointments, all too often we feel rushed and leave feeling as though we’ve not said what we wanted to, or not been listened to and taken seriously. I spent years going back and forth to various medical professionals, and although I think some offer no hope no matter how hard you try, there are certain things you can do to make the most of your appointments. Here are a few suggestions.

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Make The Time Count    Be concise in what you want to say. Avoid indecision with umming and aahing and stick to the point at hand without wandering. It’s a good idea to note down what points you want to cover and to rehearse how best to say them and in what order so that you feel prepared and confident.

Get Your Ducks In A Row If you have any evidence, be that records of symptoms, or photographs of flare-ups when the problem is at it’s worst, then have it to hand. It’s sod’s law that when you arrive for a GP appointment that the symptoms you want to discuss are suddenly no longer as obvious or severe. Also take a list of your current medication as they’ll often ask about this. 

Remind yourself of these things1. You know your body better than anyone else.  2. They are there to do a job; they are being paid to see to your health and wellbeing.  3. You deserve to be treated with respect, to be taken seriously and to be listened to. 

Anticipate The Next Steps   You might be able to make some educated guesses at what the GP may suggest, such as a blood test or requesting you keep a diary about your symptoms. You can keep a note of symptoms over the course of a week or more and be prepared with this when you turn up, which could save you some time & a repeat visit. If you think a blood test may be needed, clear your diary for after your appointment in case you are able to take the request form to your local hospital for the test the same day. 

What Do You Want?  Think about what it is you’re asking for. Do you want a physical exam, a sick note, a certain kind of blood test or scan? Is there something you think that may help you, a medication you’d want to try, a referral you think you need?  Sometimes GPs can benefit from suggestions and an idea of what you’re after. The worse than can do is say ‘no’ (and justify the answer), but having an idea of what you think you need can save a lot of wasted time.

Getting Blood Test Results – I find it useful to ask for a copy of blood test results, asking for them ‘for my own future reference’. This can be good so you can take a little control in managing your health and keeping track of what’s what. It can also be a way for you to cross-reference your results. In the past, this has allowed me to pick up on something a doctor has missed, and it’s also allowed me to see results classed as ‘fine’ that have been borderline and debatable, because different countries and practices have their own ‘normal ranges’. This can be problematic in the case of diagnosing thyroid problems, for instance.

Consider Back-Up – Being repeatedly fobbed off or not taken seriously can become very disheartening and frustrating, very quickly. Consider asking a partner, parent or close friend to come along, someone who can respectfully stay in the background during the appointment looking fierce and stepping in if necessary to fight your corner in a more professional, diplomatic way.

Don’t Give Up – Persevere, even when disheartened and frustrated. Request to see someone else if you can. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly, contact an organisation that can give advice or advocate, such as PALS. Write to the practice manager if you wish to formally complain.

Take back a little control, educate yourself, strengthen your resolve and build your confidence in fighting for yourself. 

Caz  

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26 Comments

  1. April 8, 2018 / 5:42 pm

    Great advise, be prepared with questions, be specific, In addition to asking for a copy of your blood results I also always ask for a copy of the orders for the blood work. And for while I’m waiting I always have my ipad with me so I can read my books. Thanks

    • April 10, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      I usually take a photo of my blood work request papers, that’s a good point! Also good to have something on hand for the wait like an iPad, notebook, iPod etc. Thanks for the great comment Masha 🙂
      x

  2. April 8, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Great tips. It’s a shame we’re rushed in and out so quickly. I love my general doctor because she takes her time with each patient.

    • April 10, 2018 / 4:59 pm

      I’mm glad you have a patient, thoughtful doctor, that’s so important! 🙂

  3. April 8, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    Great advice, good to be prepared cause it’s so easy to forget what you want to say in an appointment and be fobbed off. Also true that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:00 pm

      So true about forgetting what points you want to raise, it’s easy to get flustered and feel rushed & you end up coming away regretting the things you hadn’t thought to mention. Thanks for the fab comment Suzanne 🙂
      xx

  4. April 8, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    And if you don’t like your doctor find a new one. I’ve had bad doctors and I never went back. Thank goodness this has only happened a couple of times in my life and I’m pretty old.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      Yep, definitely a good idea to try to see someone else if you’re hitting a brick wall!! x

  5. April 8, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    This is really the best advice I have ever read! I will tell you this helped me so much recently and I can not thank you enough! You have taught me how to manage my doctor’s appointments and pretty much be in complete control! This really is the best and most wonderful advice anyone could ever get!!!

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      This was so heartwarming and amazing to read, thank you so much. I’m glad it’s helped, that’s all I had ever wanted from starting my blog, that just one small thing could make the smallest of positive differences. I really do hope things can improve for you because you deserve a brighter, healthier future Alyssa! Thank you again for such a lovely comment. Sending hugs and best wishes your way  ♥
      Caz x

  6. Margaret
    April 8, 2018 / 11:01 pm

    Great advice Caz. I always make a list too, and leave spaces to write down the answer I am given because I will forget. Studies show,even if we are told something 3 times we will only remember 25% and thats in normal conditions, and to me doctors visits aren’t “normal” they are quite stressful. Having someone with you is good too for the reason I mentioned above gut also if you’ve been going through something that is invisible. It helps to have an outside party be abke to verify what you are conveying to the doctor. Thank again Caz, this is very helpful.

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:38 pm

      I agree that the extra external validation another person can bring can be really helpful. Yep, doctors and specialist visits can certainly be incredibly stressful! Thanks for the fab comment Margaret & I’m glad you liked the post =]
      Caz xx

  7. April 8, 2018 / 11:18 pm

    Excellent. I really like the backup suggestion. I would often go see my doc and not remember half of the things that were happening, my husband does tho- back-up is important. ~Kim

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      I do the same for my father know, who rarely understands or remembers what’s been said so the back-up can be really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read & comment Kim, it’s much appreciated  ♥
      xx

  8. April 9, 2018 / 6:41 am

    Great advice Caz, I’m actually going to the hospital for a fibroscan this morning ? keep smiling ? x

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:41 pm

      I really hope it went well… These things can be pretty daunting but being prepared and feeling more in control to whatever extent you can be can help. Sending my best wishes your way Elaine  ♥
      xx

  9. April 9, 2018 / 9:30 am

    Very good advice. In my experience following these steps adds to be taken seriously by medical staff, and this is always a good thing.

    • April 10, 2018 / 5:48 pm

      Being taken seriously is so important in diagnosis, discussing our worries and seeking treatment. Thank you for taking the time to read & reply Viola – I hope you’re having a good week! 🙂
      xx

  10. April 9, 2018 / 10:53 pm

    Great advice, Caz. Yes, I agree. We all need to understand that those charged with looking after our health are just human beings. They are not invincible and do not know our bodies as we do.
    We need to be our own greatest advocate; as you’ve so wonderfully suggested.

    • April 10, 2018 / 4:23 pm

      That’s right, they’re just human beings too. I think we need to find a middle ground, to meet each other half way. It takes the patient and the doctor to think like that though. Thanks for the great comment Carolyn! 🙂

  11. April 10, 2018 / 11:18 am

    This is the best darn advice Ive ever read! Especially THIS:

    Remind yourself of these things : 1. You know your body better than anyone else. 2. They are there to do a job; they are being paid to see to your health and wellbeing. 3. You deserve to be treated with respect, to be taken seriously and to be listened to.

    Number 2 is most important, I get in a mindset where I feel as though I am a bother and I’m wasting their valuable time. The thing is, I’m paying them $80 for 10 minutes! It is important to remember that for that kind of money they blasted well should be listening, looking, and finding what the heck is wrong. It’s not like they are spending that time with me just because I am a nice person and they like my company! 😛

    • April 11, 2018 / 7:00 am

      ’m so glad you liked the post & thought it was good in terms of advice – that means a lot!
      And yes, you’re right about the issue of feeling like a bother. Whether it’s insurance, payment up front or NHS, it’s a paid-for service and they’re there to do a job. They should be listening, investigating, looking after you as best they can.
      Thanks so much for the fantastic comment Kat! ♥

  12. April 10, 2018 / 5:19 pm

    Great advice, Caz! Doctors appointments can be so frustrating and I often find them being a waste of time – unfortunately! I usually make notes before I go, but I think taking in any evidence of symptoms is a great idea xx

    • April 11, 2018 / 7:01 am

      I totally agree – they can be the absolute worst and after a while it just gets exhausting feeling like you’re coming away disheartened and no better off. Finding someone who listens and cares and takes initiative can be like finding a needle in a haystack, but it can happen. Being prepared can help and also gives you back a little control. Thanks for the great comment Emma! ?
      xx

  13. April 10, 2018 / 9:35 pm

    Great tips! I make notes before I go to my appointment so that I won’t forget anything 😉 At first I was embarrassed to do so but then I realized it’s for the benefit of both my doctor and I.

    • April 11, 2018 / 7:01 am

      I was embarrassed the first time I did this, too. Sometimes I just make notes, go through them before the appointment and just keep them with me ‘just in case’, other times I’ll get them out during the appointment. It makes things much more efficient and time-effective if you’re armed with points/questions and as you say, that’s a benefit for us as patients and the doctors. Thanks for the comment Christy! ?
      xx

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