A Good Family Doctor
Could Save Your Life



Tips to find and keep a good family doctor, so they're there when you need them most.

Your primary care physician (general practitioner), is nearly always the first port of call. They are the one medical professional that you'll see the most throughout your lifetime.

Having a good relationship with your family doctor is essential. Why? Because a doctor that knows you and your family history, is well informed to make life saving decisions.

It's true that most trips to the doctor's clinic aren't for anything life threatening. All you may need is some reassurance for yourself or your child, that a good family doctor will provide.

But it's the odd 1% of cases, where actually there is serious danger to your health. A good family doctor who takes interest and listens, will see the signs. Quick action gives you the best chance.

It did with me. My general practitioner noticed the symptoms of Meningitis, and drove me to hospital himself. If it had been 2 minutes later, I wouldn't be here now. The thought still makes me shiver.

Almost 20 years after, he's still my family doctor. A really good family doctor at that. Simply put, I owe my life to him.

That's the most extreme case. Your regular visits to the doctor should be treated with as much care and attention. On each visit, you should come away feeling like it was a good use of your time.



Finding A Good Family Doctor

It can be tricky business, especially if you've just moved to a new area. Or maybe you're fed up with your current doctor and want to transfer. Here are some tips:

  • Can you avoid transferring?
    If you've got a problem with your family doctor, talk it out in a friendly way. Try not to get hostile. If it can't be resolved, ask to see a different doctor within that clinic. Still unhappy? Then calmly say you're moving to a different clinic.
  • Do some research.
    Ask your friends and neighbours about their family doctor. Visit the clinic and talk to the support staff. Short tempered receptionists won't be helpful when you're trying to arrange an appointment.
  • Ask to meet the doctor.
    Preferably before you sign up! Find out what their style and manner is like. Can you see yourself getting along with them?
  • What is their appointment system?
    Can you make appointments a day or week in advance? Or do you have to call first thing in the morning? Do they have clinic times suited for if you work irregular hours?
  • Does the doctor make time to return phone calls?
    Some advice for young babies is easily given over the phone. Emergency advice can be given by phone.
  • The first appointment.
    This may be slightly longer than a normal appointment so make good use of it. Be totally honest and open about your medical past, and anything the doctor should know. Write some notes down if you won't remember everything.



  • Keeping A Good Family Doctor

    Once you've found a family doctor you can trust and talk to, hang on to them. They will treat with you respect and give you the time you deserve. The least you can do, is give the same back.

    A major reason for being struck off the list, is missing appointments. It bugs me when I see the board that says "Last week 30 appointments were missed". It must really annoy the doctor and staff.

    If you honestly can't make the appointment, call well in advance and let them know. A one-off won't be seen as a bad thing. But repeat offenders are on the highway to being struck off.

    Another big reason is refusing treatment. If you disagree with anything your family doctor says or prescribes, talk to them.

    Let them know your beliefs about certain medication or practices. Remember they are the professional and have your best interests at heart. If you can't come to a compromise, get a second opinion, but don't be hostile.


    Final Word

    Finding a good family doctor takes some time and effort, but it's well worth it. Follow your gut instincts, then give it time. It takes a while to develop a good relationship.

    If you have time, I recommend going through this article:
    http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/qntascii/qntdr.htm

    It has more detailed information and forms that you can fill out, when choosing a doctor.

    I hope you have success finding a good family doctor. If you already have one, make sure you develop a good relationship for life.

    It could save your life.

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