A Word with the DOCTOR
by Dr John Winsor
The Sunday Times of Malta

A pen can help your health

HERE IS A TIP that will help you get the best out of your doctor. Whenever you go to the surgery for a consultation, take a pen and notebook with you.

This may sound crazy, but just stop and think about it. Have you ever seen a doctor conducting a consultation without a computer or paper and pen in front of him?

Of course you haven't.

The doctor writes down what the patient tells him, because he knows that is the only way he can be sure of remembering what he has been told.

Most patients who go into the doctor's surgery have nothing to jog their memories. While they are in the surgery, they are often at a loss because their memories let them down. They can remember one or two symptoms or complaints, but so often they leave with things unsaid. Twenty minutes later, they think of something they wish they'd mentioned at the time.

Patients who take a notebook with them to the surgery will benefit in two distinct and important ways.

First they can write down all their most important symptoms and questions before they get to the surgery.

They can, therefore, be absolutely sure that they tell the doctor everything they wanted to say to him. They can also be positive that they ask all the questions they want to.

Secondly, they can write down all the advice and information they are given by the doctor, such as when they've got to go back to the surgery, how often the pills they are given have to be taken, what hospital tests are necessary, what foods need to be avoided, what side effects the tablets might produce and so on.

All of this is important information, especially as the consequences of taking some modern drugs in the wrong way can. be disastrous.

Misunderstandings really can be fatal and a notebook and pencil can save your life!

It doesn't have to be a large notebook. If you're sensible, you'll limit the information you take with you to half a page or so.

But your doctor won't mind you doing this. Indeed, he'll be enthusiastic. After all, you'll be helping him to be a better job.