Dr Liza Macdonald FRCR MA

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What to do next if not
satisfied this the consultation

  Getting The Best out of Your Doctor




What to do next if not satisfied with the consultation


All sorts of things can go wrong in a consultation.
Perhaps you were ill-prepared or didn't ask the right questions. Perhaps you didn't make a note of what was said or did not understand what the doctor was saying. Perhaps you just did not like the doctor and did not have faith in his or her judgment.

Some of the problems could also stem from poor technique on the part of the doctor. If, for example, the doctor is rushed, or didn't listen to you or interrupts you before you have had a chance to express yourself this is not conducive to a satisfactory exchange.
If this has happened to you what can you do to set things on a more positive path?

If you have had an unsatisfactory exchange with a doctor who has previously been fairly good, you could arrange to see the same doctor again perhaps earlier in the working day. By giving him or her a second chance you may eliminate some temporary factor which was distracting the doctor, such as fatigue or anxiety and a second attempt may improve matters considerably. Earlier in the day the doctor is likely to be up to time and less pressured. And next time round you will yourself be clearer about what it is that you want from this consultation. Next time take a list of questions and take a friend or relative with you to help you explain and support your confidence.

Alternatively, when you have been left frustrated you may find it helpful to write the doctor a short note explaining why you found the consultation unsatisfactory, what you want to find out, and arrange to see the same doctor again.

On the other hand you could simply transfer to another colleague and try again. In general practice, ask the nurses or the receptionist which doctor deals with this sort of problem and who is the best listener! Other patients can also give you a good steer.

In a hospital outpatient clinic it may be more difficult but the nurses are your allies here. Ask their advice about who is in the clinic today and who can best deal with your problem. If you are really dissatisfied and concerned about your health then, more formally, you could ask for a second opinion. The important matter of second opinions forms the subject of our next topic.(Topic 12)
In the interim here are some of the types of behaviour on the doctor's side which annoy patients and frustrate good communication.
(These are also discussed in more detail in Topic 8.)

Potential problems in communication technique: the patient's view-point:

1. Doctor is rushed.
2. Doctor does not listen/does not let you finish.
3. Doctor interrupts.
4. Doctor is rude.
5. Doctor avoids eye-contact or even looking at you.
6. Doctor does not examine you.
7. Doctor jumps to premature conclusion.
8. Doctor writes you unwanted/unexplained prescription.

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