The primary care setting includes:
A general practitioner (GP) is your primary care doctor. They are usually the first person you see if you are feeling unwell. They may have been the person who made your diagnosis and who continues to see you on a regular basis and coordinate your care with other health professionals. Your GP is responsible for:
- Developing a management plan and action plan with you.
- Organising initial or ongoing tests and referrals.
- Coordinating care between specialists and making referrals.
- Making referrals to, corresponding with and coordinating care between specialists and other health professionals you may see.
- Assisting you in implementing your specialist’s suggestions such as your oxygen prescription.
- Overseeing your total care and looking after all your health requirements.
- Make appointments with the same doctor, except in an urgent situation or when your normal doctor is not available.
- Make a list of questions and concerns before your visit. List these in order of priority.
- If you have many questions, ask for a longer appointment or schedule a second visit.
- Show your list to your doctor and decide together what you will discuss during this visit.
- Do not avoid asking questions because you are embarrassed or uncomfortable. Your doctor is there to help you.
- Bring a friend or family member for support.
- If you feel you do not fully understand what your doctor is saying, ask for further explanation.
- Repeat back what the doctor has said to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
- Ask your doctor to write answers down for you to refer to again.
- Find out the best way to contact your doctor in case you have additional questions or if you are concerned about symptoms or suspect a flare up.
- Let your doctor know if you have concerns over the costs of your treatment. They can help you find the best solution.
Lung Foundation Australia has developed a helpful fact sheet called, Talking with your doctor about (COPD).
You may also be cared for by a general practice or primary care nurse. A general practice or primary care nurse can be an enrolled or registered nurse working in a general practice. They play a major role in:
- Assisting in the development of care plans.
- Patient education.
- Coordination of patient care.
- Preventative care such as flu shots and other immunisations.
- Monitoring patient progress
Practice nurses may also be able to provide home visits and emergency care.
Your local pharmacist provides you with your prescribed medicines and education about them. It is the role of your pharmacist to show you how to use your medicine correctly and to ensure it won’t impact on any other medicines you may be taking. This is why it is important to try and go to the same pharmacist rather than going to a variety of pharmacists or chemists. If you are having problems with your medicines ask your community pharmacist about a ‘Medscheck’. This service aims to assist you to learn more about your medicines and how best to use them. You will also receive advice on how to store your medicines. Pharmacists are skilled in screening for different diseases, including some lung diseases. Pharmacists can also provide you with all the information you need regarding your medicine, its correct use, side effects and your general health.