User manual for your doctor.jpg

User manual for your doctor


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Dear Reader

I THOUGHT you could be interested in receiving an up-to-date manual of how to get the best out of your doctor.

Doctors are, as you know, a slightly unusual species.

They train for five or six years in medical schools, study a curriculum packed with facts and their teachers are doctors, who are actually really professors.

After these years in training, junior doctors learn their “doctoring” in big hospitals, where their patients are those sent to the hospital by GPs because their aliments became too complicated for the good old family doctor.

The medicine the junior doctors learn in hospital is a bit biased as they only see the more complicated diseases and find it hard to learn why the patients became too difficult for GPs to treat. The professors are rarely a great help because they have never worked at a grass root level.

After three years as Senior House Officers (SHO) in hospital (cynics call the SHOs glorified medical secretaries), your GP fell finally into the hands of a trainer in General Practice.

Ordinary patients

This doctor was the first who understood more about the “ordinary patient”. He explained to the GP to be, that 90 per cent of patients are “ordinary” and that the facts the student learnt in the text books and in the hospitals are often not applicable to real life and real patients.

This normally comes as a shock to young doctors and they can feel betrayed.

Many thought they would save lives by the minute and that life as a doctor would be like George Clooney’s in the television show ER.

After a while most doctors find their feet and become fascinated with the stories and illnesses of their patients.

I would like to equip you with a few useful basic tips on how you can understand your doctor better and what you can do to help them.

Basic tips

• When you make an appointment, let the receptionist know if you have any special requests.

• If you think you may need a blood test, make the appointment in the morning and come after fasting.

• Ask the receptionist if the doctor may need a urine sample before you empty your bladder.

• Come dressed in comfortable loose clothes that are easy to take off.  

• Take all documents, results and old X-rays with you that may be of interest.

• Doctors make more than 80 per cent of their correct diagnosis by taking your history. Try to be as precise as possible.

• Make a list of your complaints, symptoms and problems.

• Be absolutely honest and frank with your doctor.

• Don’t worry about embarrassing topics. Most doctors are experts in such particular problems.

• Feel free to ask all your questions. It is better to ask three times than to take the wrong tablet at the wrong time.

• If you need claim forms signed for your insurance bring them straight to the consultation. Doctors are really bad at filling them in, particularly when they have to do it six months after the consultation.

• Don’t be shy! If you want a chaperone for certain examinations your doctor will happily organise one.

• Inform the doctor about your name and address when you ring. Even the best  find it difficult to recognise patients by their voices on the phone.

Wishing you a wonderful 2007.


Doctor Thomas Kaiser

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