What you can do to get the best help
Know your medical history
Often when you see a doctor or other health professional, they’ll ask you questions about your health and medical background, like:
- if you’re on any medications or herbal treatments
- if you smoke, drink or have used illegal drugs lately
- if you have any allergies or had any reactions to medication.
Knowing and having this information ready can help the health professional give you the best help.
Try to be honest
Sometimes health professionals need to know things about you, which you might find embarrassing or uncomfortable. Try and answer these questions honestly. If you’re unsure why they’re asking you a particular question, ask them why they need to know.
Ask them whether they need to either record, or inform anybody else in relation to the use of illegal drugs (if relevant to you) if you’re concerned about your rights to confidentiality.
Talking about your health or medical condition openly with your doctor will make it easier for them to give you the best help. Leaving stuff out or making things sound different than they are will not help in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you don’t understand what the doctor is saying, ask them to explain it again, or in a different way. They’re there to help you find the best solution, so they’ll want to answer your questions.
Culture and beliefs
It’s also a good idea to let your doctor or other health professionals know about your beliefs or cultural practices. There’s no use in them suggesting things that don’t work for you because of your culture, and it’ll help them be more sensitive to your needs.
Talking to them about what is and isn’t appropriate can also be helpful as sometimes they may not know they are offending you. You may find it easier to see someone of the same gender.
Take your time
If you have decisions to make in terms of treatment, take your time to think them over. If it helps, talk to your friends or your family.
Sometimes you might need to talk to your doctor or health practitioner again to get a clearer picture or ask the questions you hadn’t thought of first time round. Also, never be afraid to get a second opinion.
Take notice of any side effects
In the situation that you’re given a prescription for medication, ask about the side effects. When taking psychiatric medication, it’s likely that there’ll be some side effects and it’s important to talk to your doctor about these.
If you do experience undesirable side effects, or things that you hadn’t expected, contact your GP or psychiatrist.
Express your concerns
If you’re not happy with your doctor, talk to them about it. Remember you can always change to a different doctor/health provider if you’re not comfortable. Although if you are a medical card holder there is an application process to change your GP.
To make a complaint about a particular health service you, or a relative, has received visit Health Service Executive to see how to go about it.
To get further information about your rights and responsibilities or to complain, check out citizen’s information on making a complaint to/about the HSE. You can also make a complaint directly through the HSE website.