In my experience (as a Registered Nurse, a patient, or a relative of a patient) having a good GP is priceless and can make all the difference to your health and well being. Having a local doctor who knows your history well, and understands your concerns is invaluable, particularly if you have a chronic illness. BUT they can be hard to find.
Now no disrespect to the the medical profession, there are numerous committed and professional doctors available in the community, but sadly there are some that really miss the mark. I have witnessed first hand some unfortunate cases of GP's misdiagnosing a serious illness and the consequences can be devastating. I acknowledge it is a tough job, and they are called 'general' practitioners for a reason - they know a little about a lot of different things (apart from those who specialize in certain areas) - so we shouldn't expect them to be experts in everything.
So how do you choose a GP ? here are my 10 tips for choosing Doctor Right :
1. They need to be a good listener
there is no way a doctor is going to be able to help you effectively if they don't listen - and I mean actively listen and hear what you are saying - and even read between the lines !.
find a GP that explains things clearly, in a language you understand and at a pace that allows you time to clarify any information.
3. Beware of the over prescribers
- not such an issue these days - but I recall a GP I visited when I was younger that always had his prescription pad at the ready and I rarely walked out of there without medication. Of course if medication is required then I'm all for it - but you need to be confident that all other possibilities have been explored.
4. Question what they are telling you
don't accept what they say as the gospel truth - if you continue to have issues that aren't being resolved despite treatment, don't be afraid to seek a second or third opinion and / or ask for a referral to a specialist. YOU know your body better than anyone, trust your instincts.
5. When you want to find a new GP ask around
ask your neighbours, friends, the local pharmacist for their recommendations.
6. Seek out family oriented medical centres
for ongoing care, look for a well established practice with a family focus rather than an 'all hours' medical centre where the staff turnover can be high.
6. Don't be ageist
some people feel that an older GP is more experienced, may have more knowledge - but don't discount doctors based on their age - younger GP's have had recent exposure to the most up to date treatments and information.
7. Ask about the Cost
if cost is an issue for you make sure you check if the centre bulk bills, or what the exact costs will be.
8. Consider Ease of access
its all very well if your doctor is fabulous but if the centre is difficult to get to and / or has limited parking you have to consider if it is worth the hassle.
9. Appointment Availability
if the doctor is so good its nearly impossible to get an appointment within a reasonable time frame - then you need to consider if that will work for you too.
10. Comfort level
above all else you need to be comfortable talking to your doctor - about anything. It's not going to get you the best outcome if you have a fabulous GP but you are just not comfortable with them as a person. Find the right fit for you.
Of course if you are ever dissatisfied with the treatment you have received from a doctor there are avenues to raise a complaint - I suggest you start with the Practice Manager or alternatively you can contact the Health Quality Complaints Commission here in Queensland, or the equivalent in your state. You can also utilize an advocate to deal with the complaint on your behalf.