Master Your Doctor Dictation
1. GO IN THE MORNING
You say “I really need to see a doctor before lunch.” Why? Because, like everyone else, doctors are at their sharpest in the morning. “Avoid afternoons because if things are overrunning your doc will be pressured to get through patients quicker,” says Dr Sarah Jarvis, a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. “Book your appointment after lunch the previous day.”
2. SAY WHAT YOU CAN’T DO
You say “And I’m having trouble picking my nose…” Why? If you used to be able to jog, but now you can barely crawl, say so. “If you’ve had to alter your lifestyle, knowing that will quickly add to your doctor’s understanding of your problem and its urgency,” says Dr Cam Patterson. This doesn’t include your DIY or IT problems.
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE
You say “It’s just one thing…” Why? The average doctor has seven minutes with each patient. “Men will often turn up with a list of ailments, and often have a ‘doorknob’ one too,” explains Dr Ayan Panja, an expert on BBC’s Street Doctor. “This is where they’re just leaving and they say ‘actually doc, there’s something else…’” Hearing that you’ve only got one problem is music to your quack’s ears.
4. BRING YOUR DIARY
You say “Faint on Monday, temperature on Tuesday, vomiting on Wednesday.” Why? Listing the exact timing and duration of your symptoms can make a huge difference in a doctor deciding what treatments to administer,” says Panja. “This is especially true of fevers since there’s a chance it may have run its course.”
5. RATE YOUR SYMPTOMS
You say “Maybe six out of 10…” Why? Help the doc feel your pain – without hitting him. “Giving your pain a severity score provides your doctor with a more accurate idea of how it feels, says Jarvis. “We also like a bit of descriptive prose when it comes to pain – so is it a burning, stabbing or dull aching pain?” If the pain goes to 11, it’s still not okay to hit him.