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Preparing To Visit The Hospital

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Dr Ann Ribinson explains the importance of preparing to visit the hospital:

Dr. Ann Robinson, general practitioner: Going on a hospital, say, outpatient visit is often extremely stressful, and the more thought you can put into it before you go, I think, the less stressful.

The first thing to work out is how you're gonna get there. One of the most stress-inducing things about going to a hospital appointment is the parking. So, where humanly possible, to get a friend to drop you off and arrange to pick you up, or to go on public transport if you possibly can, or even to splash out and perhaps get a cab up there if you're just not feeling up to those other options.

And the other thing is to be prepared on the medical front. So, to have a clear idea of why you're going. If you have an appointment coming up and you can't really remember what particular point it was you were supposed to be addressing, it's a really good idea to pop back to the GP and just get that clarified. And, best of all, write it down, or get the GP to write it down.

Sometimes the consultants have news to tell you: results of a scan or an investigation, which can be shattering. And they tell you a lot of information in one go. And sometimes the first piece of information, the main part, is very daunting. They might say to you, "I'm afraid I've got bad news." And you don't actually hear anything they say after that.

So, it's very useful to take someone with you. But you have to choose your person carefully. If it's somebody who's going to interrupt, or not listen carefully, or not jot down useful notes, then they're worse than useless. You're better off going on your own.

Sometimes you're going on an outpatients' appointment because you're actually going to get a second opinion. Now, the person can't give you a second opinion if they don't know what the first opinion was. So, again, if the GP can print out a copy of the first letter from, perhaps, the consultant who saw you last, that's very useful, too.

So, you really can't be too well-prepared.

10088 Revised November 2012 

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