Dr Liza Macdonald FRCR MA

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Things which can hamper the
doctor in a consultation

  Getting The Best out of Your Doctor




Things which can hamper the doctor in a consultation


Doctors too have problems with consultations. The most obvious difficulty is the shortage of time. Often doctors have a waiting room full of patients and insufficient time to deal with the patient in front of them. Through experience doctors get pretty efficient at getting to the heart of the matter but time constraints are stressful and tiring.

In addition, no matter how well ordered is the practice or clinic, interruptions can occur.
Important phone calls may need to be answered, a secretary may have a question, a bleep may go off. Doctors usually request that interruptions are kept to a minimum but really important issues may intervene. Because of their long hours of work, fatigue is a common problem for doctors. They start early, work late, and may have nights broken by calls. So fatigue can affect their concentration and their performance with you.

In addition, being only human, doctors can be distracted by other issues. They may be preoccupied with the previous patient or distracted by their own family problems, a teething baby or teenage tantrums. Sometimes (and this does not happen often) a doctor and a patient simply don't get on. They just don't hit it off. If a doctor just can't get to grips with a patient's approach or style it is probably best to accept this and for the doctor to arrange an appointment with a more compatible colleague.

Sometimes the difficulty is that of inexperience. If the doctor has not met this problem before and is not sure what to do about it the best approach is to take a comprehensive history, examine the patient, record the findings and discuss with a colleague to whom the patient should be referred.

Medicine is a complex business and both sides of the doctor/patient relationship have to work hard to keep the process on track. Be a bit forgiving if your doctor is distracted. Be patient but be persistent!

Distractions which hamper the doctor

- Lack of time/interruptions/secretary/telephone/bleep
- Fatigue, Stress, Illness
- Distractions/other patients/family worries (doctors are only human)
- No rapport possible; can happen occasionally; suggest colleague
- Not doctor's area of expertise: take history and refer appropriately

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