Brisbane City Doctors
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FAQs

HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY GENERAL PRACTICE

Questions To Ask To Measure Quality
Are the doctor’s specialist general practitioners? (Do they have a FRACGP after their MBBS?)
Do the doctor’s participate in continuing education? Are they vocationally registered? (To retain VR status a doctor must be involved in continuing education)
Is the practice computerised? Advantages include no lost files; all your information is at the doctor’s fingertips; complete legibility.
Does the practice have a recall system?
Is the practice time conscious? (to minimise waiting times)
Does the practice have trained nurses to assist doctors and patients?
Does the practice have the latest up to date medical equipment and facilities?
Does the practice have after hours care arrangements in place for you?
Has the practice been quality accredited? (Look for logo in front window.)
Can you get an appointment within 1-2 days? Longer appointments on request and immediately if urgent?
 
 
HOW CAN I ENSURE I RECEIVE THE BEST CARE AVAILABLE?
 
There are a number of things that need to occur to ensure this. First be sure you are choosing a quality general practice with quality doctors by going through the above questions and hopefully answering yes to all of them.
Choose a doctor and stick with them to follow through with your health problems. Continuity of care is very important. Valuable information may be lost and important follow up forgotten when swapping and changing doctors frequently
Arrive on time for your appointment and be sure you book enough time for the problem you have come for or you artificially create a "rushed" appointment, which is unsatisfactory to both patient and doctor.
 
Come to the consultation well prepared and able to give a clear history of your problem, how long you have had your symptoms, what makes them better and worse and any other associated symptoms. Write it down in chronological order if it is a long and complex history. Express any fears or concerns or needs you have so doctors can address them directly and reassure you. Doctors cannot read minds any better than you can!
 
Be honest and forthright with the doctor, they need an accurate account to make a correct diagnosis. Making a diagnosis is like putting a jigsaw together. If there are pieces of information missing, the big picture (i.e. the diagnosis) may be more difficult to make.
If there is anything you don’t understand, ask questions until you do. Doctors are happy to explain to the level of knowledge you personally need but they won’t know what you need unless you tell them.
Bring a diary and write down instructions given to you. Follow the instructions and inform the doctor if for any reason you can’t follow through as failure to follow through may have adverse outcomes for you. Doctors work on the premise that if they have advised you to do something you will do it. If you don’t intend to do it or will delay doing it you need to tell them so they can advise you of any adverse consequences possible if you delay.
 
Take medication as prescribed. Do tests as requested. Return for them as advised. See specialists as advised. Report back immediately if the medication has side effects or you are not getting better. Good medicine is good teamwork and clear timely communication between patient and doctor as much as it is between doctor and patient
 
Diagnosis is a step by step process; not all diagnosis can be made in one visit. Medicare will only allow a stepwise level of testing, i.e. when the first set of tests for the most likely cause come back negative, then testing for the next round is permitted at next visit if symptoms are continuing. This system has been instituted to ensure careful use of our over stretched health resources. You need to understand this diagnostic process to ensure you continue to return until your health problem is resolved to completion. If an answer cannot be found you will be referred for a second opinion.
 
 
WHY DO DOCTORS RUN LATE?
 
Doctors run late because Patients:
 
arrive late for appointments
don’t book enough time for the problem they have come with
have medical emergencies
Consultations are interrupted by phone calls
Epidemics occur
 
As you can see, the doctors aren’t in control of any of these factors. We can't control for epidemics and emergencies but your assistance with the other factors will help us to run on time.
 
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MINIMISE WAITING TIMES?
 
Arrive on time. Let receptionist know if you are here for breathing test, ECG, preg test so tests can get underway while awaiting your appointment with the doctor
If returning for an X-ray result or MASTA Travel Advice reply ask for it at front desk and bring it in with you to the consultation
Ring well in advance if you can’t make your appointment. This allows us to allot an urgent appt to a true space and not have to fit it in where there is no space and thus delay appts after it. It also helps to maintain bulkbilling as long as possible since every unfilled appt causes a loss to the practice. It also saves you being charged the non-cancellation fee!
Book ahead, don’t leave it till the last minute
Book adequate time for the problem you have come with, ask advice if needed.
Book a minimum 20 mins for a life crisis situation or a complex problem or womens health problem involving bleeding
Be realistic in your expectations and aware a delay is possible when we are dealing with people’s lives. Factor this into your expected time out of work. (It is unrealistic to expect to be seen in a 15-min coffee break or just before your bus leaves- this is a recipe for disappointment!)
Book first appointment after lunch or in the morning as these have the least potential to be delayed by emergencies
If you phone for an estimate wait time, it will be rough only as waiting times vary minute by minute.
Come on rainy days and Wednesdays – they are always quieter.
Avoid short weeks, and the day after a public holiday – they are always very busy.
 
 
COMMON MEDICAL MISCONCEPTIONS
 
Antibiotics lower your immune system – not true, antibiotics kill bacterial infection. Failure to take the complete course can breed bacteria that are immune to those particular antibiotic, thus breeding resistant bacteria into the general community. It is the bacteria that become immune to that antibiotic, not you. Antibiotics are only required for bacterial infections and not viral infections.
 
When we do a blood test “it tests for everything” – not true. Blood tests are requested for individual items relevant to your symptoms and the history you have given us. It does not test for cancer, HIV or your blood group routinely.
 
A Pap smear will detect sexually transmitted infections. Wrong! We will test for sexually transmitted infections by taking an additional test (swabs) if you give us a history of multiple partners, or request it. It is not done routinely. Blood tests are required to test for HIV, Hep B, Hep C and syphilis. Other STD’s require urine and vaginal samples.
 
Pregnancy test can detect pregnancy before the missed period- wrong. it is not accurate or refundable by Medicare until the period is late
 
Pregnancy tests always detect pregnancy – wrong! It takes at least 2-3 weeks from when you fall pregnant for enough pregnancy hormone to be present in the urine to be detected reliably. If the urine is dilute or not a first morning specimen it may also give a false negative result or if a pregnancy is in a fallopian tube rather than the uterus (ectopic), a lower level of pregnancy hormone than normal is present and may take longer to reach a detectable level. Always repeat the test in a week if suspicious you are pregnant.
 
Blood tests will detect cancer. Mostly not true, occasional cancers eg leukemia, will be detected by blood tests. Most cancers need other tests to diagnose them.
 
Antidepressants are addictive. Not true! They merely replace the deficient levels of neurotransmitters that cause the brain dysfunction we know as depression.
 
Asthmatics can become dependant on their medication. Not true, but they need their medication to maintain a healthy maximal level of lung function so when challenged with their usual triggers eg cold, flu, allergy, exercise their lung function does not drop to a dangerously low level.
 
The worst pills to miss on the pill are the mid-cycle ones. Wrong!  Any missed pill is a risk but the worst pills to miss are at the active pills at either end of the sugar pills. You are safe for the whole time unless you miss a pill when you are unsafe for the next week and if you miss pills in the 7 days leading up to the sugars you should skip the sugars that  month and go straight on to the active pills in the next pack
 
A negative blood test means there is no medical problem. Not true! It merely means we need to look again with different tests to make the diagnosis. This is why you need to return for follow up even if initial blood tests are normal and symptoms are present. Diagnosis is a step by step process.
 
Most problems can be diagnosed in one visit. Wrong! Some diseases are very difficult to diagnose and may even take years e.g. average time to diagnosis of Crohns disease is 3 years and acromegaly is 11 years! It may take time for all the pieces of the medical diagnostic jigsaw to emerge. Few medical conditions can be diagnosed in one visit. This is why having a regular doctor to go through the diagnostic process with is so important otherwise pieces of the diagnostic jigsaw are lost and may delay your particular diagnosis. E.g. patient seen 1/99 with thrush, seen again 4/99 with a boil, doctor is alerted to fact these two symptoms may signal diabetes but only one visit alone of either of these symptoms would not warrant testing for diabetes, only the combination does so if this patient is seen at the one practice it is likely diabetes will be tested for, but if at different practices, its unlikely the earliest diagnosis would be made.
 
Doctor will ring you with results. Wrong assumption! Check with the DR how you are to receive results. Doctors see 150+ patients / week. A 3-min phone-call to each patient would take 8 hours! It is your responsibility to obtain your results! It is essential you to make arrangements to obtain your results to ensure they have been received by the practice and a doctor has seen them
 
If I told the receptionist the reason for my visit she will tell the doctor. Wrong assumption! The appointment sheet is no place for recording patients’ personal medical details. You need to tell the doctor yourself why you have come.
 
Medicare will pay for any test I want. Medicare will only pay for those tests that are medically necessary. It does not pay for health screening eg tests on a healthy person with no symptoms.
 
A doctor can diagnose over the phone. Unwise! No diagnosis can confidently be made over the phone. If you have symptoms, please make an appointment. ON some occasions when just advice is needed , consultations can be done over the phone.
 
I don’t need a mammogram; I have no family history. Wrong! Family history only accounts for 5% of women who get breast cancer. All women are at risk and mammograms are advised from age 40 but younger women need to also be checking their breasts monthly and report any changes in symptoms asap. 90 % of breast lumps are benign on testing.
 
I have not had sex for years. I don’t need a pap. If you have ever had sex in your life, or have abnormal vaginal bleeding-you need to have paps till age 70. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus you catch from having sex. It may take 20-30+ years for the cancer to develop. There is a vaccine now to help prevent cervical cancer.
 
I don’t have any symptoms. I don’t need to see a doctor. Millennium health care is about prevention. Your need to see a doctor at least annually for your life extending preventive care activities to be done. We recommend annual medicals for all over 40 (not Medicare refundable).
 
 
 

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