A matter of time

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am

Visits to his doctor usually last just one or two minutes, but yesterday newly diagnosed diabetes sufferer Mr Chung had eight minutes with his medical practitioner at the Chai Wan Health Centre.

For 18 months Mr Chung, who would not give his full name, said he had been visiting the clinic for regular check-ups for his high cholesterol.

'In the past, when I went inside the room, the doctor looked at the computer and said a few things about my health. Then he would print out a record and it's done,' Mr Chung said.

But yesterday's consultation lasted longer than usual as Mr Chung was diagnosed with diabetes. He said the doctor explained about diabetes and provided him with details of the precautions he would have to take.

'I usually have very few questions to ask, so I think short consultations are not a problem. But of course the longer the consultation, the better it would be so the doctor could explain more about my condition,' he said.

Another patient said that six months ago he had been criticised by a doctor at a Wan Chai out-patient clinic for taking up too much time. 'The doctor said 'Why did you ask so many questions? There are lots of patients waiting'. So I stopped asking immediately,' he said.

'But I think ideally the consultation should last at least nine to 10 minutes, so there is more communication between the doctor and patient.'

Meanwhile, Ms Chiu, 75, said she was happy with the clinic's service.

She said that even though she had no idea how long each specific consultation period lasted, she felt it was 'more than enough'. 'Every time, the doctors here are very patient to answer all my questions,' she said.