Diabetes and Your Doctor
As someone with diabetes, you will likely need to visit your doctor and healthcare team on at least a semi-regular basis. It's essential to maintain a good relationship with your healthcare team.
Also remember that your doctor will have their own limitations and always maintain a good level of composure and self restraint.
Plan ahead of diabetes appointments
It is well worth planning ahead of an appointment what you wish to discuss and how best to get the message across. Writing down in advance what you wish to talk about can sometimes be particularly useful, especially if you sometimes find it difficult to explain things ‘on the spot’.
If what you wish to discuss is relevant to your blood glucose control, take along with you a record of your recent blood glucose test history.
How do I get more time to talk about diabetes with my doctors?
Doctors tend to be very busy and face a lot of pressure on their time. Some GPs may even have only a set amount of time they can give to each patient per appointment.
If you think you’ll need more time, try to book a ‘double appointment’ but be prepared to justify why the extra time is needed.
If a double appointment is not available, pick the most important things to discuss this time round and arrange another appointment later to discuss the other matters.
Planning ahead can help you make the most of your time with the doctor. If there is more than one issue to raise, let your doctor know at the start of the appointment how many things you wish to address. This way, if there is not time to discuss all points, your doctor will likely be more willing to arrange a follow up appointment in the near future to address the remaining points.
Do your own diabetes research
Thanks to the internet, many people have the chance to read up on subjects before visiting their doctor.
Be wary of appearing to lecture your doctor though. If you feel that the advice of your doctor goes against your own diabetes research you may wish to ask them why they are recommending their line of advice.
You may not agree with their reasoning one hundred per cent but it’ll at the very least help you to better understand where your doctor is coming from.
As a basic rule of thumb, the more respect you give to your doctor, the more respect you will likely get back.
What if my doctor doesn’t seem to understand my diabetes?
No doctor is perfect. Doctors carry with them an awful lot of specialist knowledge but it’ll always be true that some doctors will understand and be able to explain diabetes better than others. It’s often worthwhile asking your doctor why they have given some advice or why they have prescribed a certain medicine or routine.
If you feel that the doctor is not able to address your problem adequately you may wish to ask if you could be referred to a specialist, such as a diabetologist (diabetic consultant), to address a particular matter. If, despite your best efforts, you and your doctor can’t see eye to eye, you can request to see a different doctor.
Keeping calm at your doctor’s appointment
Diabetes is most probably a big deal to you and if your doctor isn’t giving your condition the time or care you feel it deserves, it can be very frustrating. If you’ve waited half an hour or more to see your doctor, only to see him or her for 5 minutes it can be even more so. Accept that the outcome may not entirely meet your expectations and be ready to ask appropriate questions if things don’t go entirely the way you’d hoped.
Try to bring an open mind to the appointment. You needn’t accept everything at face value but it will help you to consider other avenues of thought. If despite your best efforts you feel that you’re not getting a reasonable level of care, there are ways in which you can make a complaint.
How can I make a complaint about the care I receive?
If you have a complaint to make, you should bring the issue up with your own healthcare provider.
Start by asking them what their complaints procedure is and follow the complaints guidelines.
It may be tempting to have a rant but a complaint that states the facts without too much hyperbole will tend to fare better.
If your care provider is unable to resolve the complaint, you can raise a formal complaint. You can advice on making a complaint from the following bodies:
- England: Patient Advice and Liason Service (PALS)
- Scotland: Your Local health Board
- Wales: Your Community Health Council
- Northern Ireland: The Patient and Client Council
If your complaint is still not resolved, you may wish to take your case to the Public Service Ombudsman.