A GP – the first doctor you usually visit
People entrust their GP with their health issues from childhood. This specialist knows many diseases, as well as their causes and symptoms. After evaluating a patient’s condition, a GP can recommend which types of food to consume and which physical activities to do. A general practitioner (GP) also acts as an intermediary between patients and specialist medical practitioners to whom he or she refers those patients who suffer from specific, complex diseases.
A GP performs the following functions:
- Provides necessary medical care;
- Diagnoses diseases and recommends treatments;
- Refers patients to specialist medical practitioners;
- Provides phone consultations;
- Informs public health centres about any suspicious, severe or contagious diseases;
- Provides a medical certificate to state when someone is ill and needs to stay off work because of their condition (a “sick note”).
There are also additional functions that GPs need to perform. They and other specialist medical practitioners form a strong team that can help their patients at all times. Sandyford Healthcare is ready to help you even in times of emergency: our GPs provide a special service for such situations called the “GP Walk-in Clinic”. You can use it to discuss your issues with a specialist even without prior registration.
Visiting your GP: how should you prepare for it?
- Symptom diary. It is usually very difficult and sometimes even impossible to diagnose an illness by knowing only one symptom. A general practitioner is only useful when a patient can clearly state the symptoms of their health problem. Keeping a symptom diary is especially helpful if a patient suffers from a disease for a prolonged period of time: it might help to indicate the severity and complexity of an illness, as well as help to plan treatment. If it is complicated to evaluate and track the symptoms of an illness, ask a family member for help.
- Detailed understanding of the progression of an illness. This information can be noted in a symptom diary. When did you first experience these symptoms? When did they become severe? When did complications start? Such documentation might seem irrelevant to a patient, but a GP finds it extremely useful for evaluating the patient’s condition and deciding on the most effective treatment programme.
- Hereditary information. Genetics is a branch of biology that helps to predict from which illnesses a patient is likely to suffer. Illnesses can be inherited from parents, grandparents, great grandparents and even more distant relatives. It is easier to diagnose an illness and propose a treatment when it is known which illnesses run in the family.
- Clear titles of medicines used and their active substances. A general practitioner knows very well which medicines cannot be taken together because they are incompatible. Patients who use some medicines without a doctor’s prescription risk complicating their illnesses. It is not enough to know their use. It is recommended that you write down the full title of any medicines you use.
A GP plays an especially important role in taking care of a family. It is therefore imperative that you trust your GP. Follow their specialist instructions, prepare for your appointment and speak honestly about any health problems you might have: this will make it easier to ensure your own health and well-being.