In a perfect world no one would get sick after-hours, and everyone would be treated for illness only by their regular GP who understands and knows their medical history – however, we don’t like in a perfect world.
After-hours doctors make it possible to seek treatment even when medical centres are closed. They visit the homes of urgently sick patients to help keep viruses from spreading through a community.
They’ll visit you at home
Doctors taking care of patients in their home isn’t a new concept. In the early 20th century, home visits made up nearly half of a doctor’s dealings with patients.
Yet as medical technology developed, doctors developed group practices that relied on specialty referrals, making treatment the more “hospital based” version of healthcare we see today.
After-hours GPs have reviewed, revisited, and reworked the old home visit concept. This means that trained doctors are available late at night and early in the morning to deal with urgent medical situations, such as: sutures, vomiting, or breathing difficulties.
When doctors make a home visit they often treat category 4 and 5 illnesses. According to the hospital’s triage system these are illnesses that are potentially serious and/or conditions that need medical treatment within two hours.
House call doctor’s treat many different people, especially those who are fragile or unable to take care of themselves, including children and the elderly.
They’ll help with your episodic illness
When home visits started to become less common, patients turned to hospital emergency rooms for urgent and reliable care in the event of acute illness.
As emergency room visits increased, more pressure was put on hospitals. This resulted in many patients feeling dissatisfied with the level of care they had received.
Realising this, home doctors decided to treat some illnesses that they felt were too serious to wait for GPs to reopen their doors, but are not serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital.
This service soon became important for those who needed care and were unable to access it after-hours.
Some of the most common illnesses after-hours doctors treat include acute respiratory illnesses (such as influenza, bronchiolitis, croup, and viruses), injuries, dehydration, and fever. Patients with asthmatic issues and gastro also call regularly.
They’ll diagnose and treat you
Once a medical professional arrives, you can expect to be examined as you would by your regular GP. You’ll be asked some questions, which will help the doctor form a diagnosis.
Once your illness has been diagnosed, the doctor will recommend treatment or suggest some things you can do to ease your symptoms. If you need a certain medicine right away, most doctors will have some medications on their person to start making you feel better sooner.
After the visit, house call doctors will send a clinical report to your regular GP, so they can stay up to date on your medical needs. The home doctor’s recommendations might include following up with your GP for further treatments and tests the following business day. Having a regular GP is an important part of your health management, so make sure you have those details handy for your after-hours doctor.