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Guidelines for a Home Visit

homevisitsA GP can see approximately four patients in the surgery in the time he can see one patient on a home visit. In most cases visits are not medically necessary, and patients do not come to harm by being brought to the surgery. If you think a visit is necessary it is worthwhile discussing this with your doctor on the telephone.

GP/Paramedic/Nurse Practitioner Visit Recommended

Home Visiting makes clinical sense and is the best way of giving a medical opinion in cases involving:

  • the terminally ill
  • the truly bed-bound patient for whom travel to the surgery by car would cause deterioration in their medical condition or unacceptable discomfort.

GP/Paramedic/Nurse Practitioner Visit may be useful

After initial assessment over the telephone a seriously ill patient may be helped by a clinician's attendance to prepare them to travel to hospital - that is, where other commitments do not prevent him/her from arriving before an ambulance.

Examples of such situations are:

  • myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • severe shortness of breath
  • severe haemorrhage (bleeding).

It is understood that if a GP is about to embark on a booked surgery of twenty-five patients and is told that one of his/her patients is suffering from symptoms suggesting a heart attack, the sensible approach may well be to call an emergency paramedical ambulance rather than attending.

Home visit is not usual

In most of these cases, to visit would not be an appropriate use a clinician's time.

  • Common symptoms, such as childhood fevers, cold, cough, earache, headache, diarrhoea/vomiting and most cases of abdominal pain. These patients are usually well enough to travel by car. It is not necessarily harmful to take a child with a fever outside. These children may not be fit to travel by bus or to walk, but car transport is available from friends, relatives or taxis. It is not a doctors job to arrange such transport. 
  • Adults with common problems, such as cough, sore throat, influenza, back pain and abdominal pain are also easily transportable by car to a doctors premises. 
  • Common problems in the elderly, such as, poor mobility, joint pain and general malaise, would best be treated by a consultation at a doctors premises. The exception to this would be the truly bed-bound patient. If in doubt ask to speak to the doctor.

If you need a home visit please ring before 10.00am. You should have received a copy of the NEHA booklet 'Before you Phone the Doctor', which is very instructive.

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