For many people, GPs play a very important role in their lives, from diagnosing common maladies that affect them to picking up more life threatening conditions that require further investigations and care from a tertiary centre. They usually act as a friend and a confidante, being privy to many problems that burden their patients.
Unfortunately, most of the time, GPs are usually very busy and consultation time is usually limited. In Western Medical Practice, history taking or the description of symptoms by the patient is a very important part of the consultation. A Western Trained Doctor cannot tell what is wrong with a patient by just taking the pulse, a fantasy best left to B grade TVB teledramas. If we lived in an ideal world, the GP should spend at least 30 minutes per consult, and spend some time taking your history and examining you and ultimately describing the treatment or advising you on further investigation like blood tests or imaging that might be helpful in the diagnosis.
Below are some thoughts on how to maximize your consultation in that limited amount of time, in the Malaysian context.
1. Time your visits when possible.
Mornings are usually not a good time to visit your GP. Clinics are usually crowded with people who have been fasting overnight to do blood tests, ladies who drop by after their morning exercise or marketing and the office workers who want a Medical Chit to exempt them from work. Your consultation with the GP will be more hurried due to the overwhelming amount of patients waiting outside. Most GPs do not practice appointments and in this less than ideal situation, try not to visit in the mornings unless of course it is an emergency.
Evenings are a bad time too. Parents who have finished working will bring their sick child to the doctor and trying to get a consult after official clinic hours is a bad idea too, because the doctor would have been too tired from a long day. The best times are usually from 3PM to 5PM.
If the clinic is extra heavy and you find that there are other unresolved problems that might need attention, try asking the Doctor if it will be better for you to come back for another visit.
2. Be Properly Attired.
Just some common sense. If you have a rash on your thighs, do not wear long tights unless you want to show of your undergarments too. It would be best to wear loose fitting clothes, especially if you are expecting an ultrasound scan or some other procedures to be preformed. The time spent on undoing clasps and buttons should be better spent at describing your symptoms and getting useful advice from your doctor.
Gentlemen should avoid wearing singlets. The tactile stimulation from the wet and hairy bush under the armpits while the Doctor attempts to take your BP will not endear you to him. Unless it is an emergency, try to be clean. Doctors are after all only human, and will appreciate any effort to make the consult as pleasant as possible. I am sure any ethical Doctor will tolerate anybody who smells like rotting fish if it is an emergency. Turning up with your hand covered in grease and leaving a trail of body odour that requires 3 cans of air freshener to hide the smell is just plain silly if you are just at the clinic to pick up your regular anti hypertensives. The Nurse would have to spend time wiping off the grease marks on the chair and table, time which could be used to see the next patient.
3. Children and Clinics.
Try to leave you children who are not sick at home and do not bring them along with you to the clinic. Clinics are filled with sick people and Germs. It is possible for them to get infected as well. Children are naturally hyperactive if they are well (sometimes even if they are sick).
If Mummy is sick, please leave the children at home. Uncle Doctor will be very very distracted if Little Johnny treats the RM120,000 ultrasound machine like a PS 3 and Little Lisa jumps up and down the weighing scale like a trampoline while Mummy is being examined. It will be made worse if Daddy is discussing the stock market with his stockbroker in the background. It will be a natural reaction of the Doctor to hurry on the consultation. The examination room is usually not very child friendly and filled with electrical hazards and sharp instruments.
Preparation for a sick child for a consultation begins at home. There are many child care books that teached techniques of preparing the child for a visit to the Dr. Try to keep the child comfortable, and bring along his or her favourite toy. Again, fuss free clothing that are loose and comfortable will make it easier for them to be examined. For older children who are fretful of clinics, try playing "doctor" with them at home with a toy stethescope to familiarize them with the rote of physical examination.
4. Be concise and precise about your symptoms.
Terms like giddiness means different things to different people. It could mean feeling like blacking out, feeling like the room is spinning for feeling some form of imbalance, all of which may have different causes. If you have had the symptoms before, tell the Doctor why you are particularly worried about the current episode. Is it more severe, or does it come with other symptoms as well.
Avoid vague terms like "uncomfortable". Use a language that you are really conversant with to avoid confusion.
Take note of any previous allergic reactions to medication and insist on getting the name of the medicine from the clinic. Jot down the names of any medication that you are taking or have taken over the past day prior to the consultation to avoid any undesirable interactions with the medication that the doctor is prescribing for you. A very interesting observation to note is that some people can remember all the top three prize winners for Magnum for the past month, but are unable to recall what medication they are allergic to.
If you are in doubt, ask. A good Doctor usually will let you know why he thinks that your symptoms and signs fits in with a particular diagnosis. Make the Doctor discuss the treatment plan with you in detail, and ask for possible complications that might arise from both the disease and the treatment. But of course, ask intelligently. For instance, do not ask questions like where do bacterias come from, and in the process give your doctor a stroke.
This blog post is mainly for entertainment value. Please consult your professional medical practitioner for proper advice.
One evening saw us catching up on Chinese food from a small papa and mama joint in DU. Yok Tho Yin serves Chinese food which is best described as hearty and affordable or boring and predictable, depending on how you see it. The price was certainly reasonable, a meal for 4 cost us less than RM100. The star of the night would be the Salted Egg Yolks Fried with Bitter Gourd, which was a lovely tribute to the usually morose and dour Bitter Gourd. It was lifted out of it's doldrums by the bright sunshine coloured yolks which provided an interesting flaky and powdery saltiness to this beautiful combination.
Desserts at Tim Pan Kor Kor was reflected by their crowd which would average around 23 years old. Full of hopes and unrealized dreams. Dish cafe is already well known and is a comfortable place to have a civil conversation amidst a beautiful interior. Food will be tried and tested favourites which is not really my cup of tea.
Yook Tho Yin
31, Jalan SS21/37
Tim Pan Kor Kor
No 36, Jalan SS2/63
47000 Petalin Jaya
Jalan Tun Razak
10 hours ago