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What to do when your doctor has gone away for the holidays


 Make sure your ongoing prescriptions are filled with enough meds to cover the days (Photo: iStock)

You are obviously tuned to the fact that Christmas day, and indeed the week of festivity is upon us. Many have already taken time off work for the end-of-year holidays.

Not to be left behind would be healthcare workers, who also deserve time off from their busy schedules. Your doctor is in that mix too, and they may be taking a break as well. For some, there are bound to be well-founded anxieties when their doctor is away.

In well-structured healthcare systems, the absence of a single individual, or even more, should never be a reason for any anxiety.

Healthcare is driven by teamwork, not by solo practices. When one key member of the team is away, others should always be available to step in and support ongoing care. Therefore, your doctor being away should never be reason enough to affect your overall healthcare. Unless of course, you seek healthcare services from outdated practices where teamwork isn't embraced.

But let's look at practical things you must put in place when your doctor is away. Those with chronic conditions should always have appropriate plans to accommodate their doctor's absence.

Make sure your ongoing prescriptions are filled with enough meds to cover you when your doctor's services may be limited. This obviously means planning well ahead of time.

You should also always check with your doctor's office what plans would be in place if you needed to be seen urgently during their absence. You must also be ready to make some healthcare decisions without necessarily relying on direct contact with your doctor.

A good example is emergency situations that may arise unexpectedly. Regardless of your doctor's availability, you should always head to the nearest healthcare facility when faced with an emergency.

Many people waste valuable time trying to get in touch with their doctors in emergency situations when all that is required is to get to an emergency centre pronto.

You will also sometimes face mundane conditions when your doctor is away. No point trying to reach them for such. You can always wait to see if mild symptoms will spontaneously resolve.

Over-the-counter remedies are another option, and most pharmacies will give handy advice as appropriate. There are plenty of home remedies too for mundane symptoms, just make sure you don't overtreat yourself.

Persistent symptoms always require a formal medical review. So if your doctor has notified you they'll be away this Christmas, let them be.

You have many options at your disposal to deal with any healthcare matters that may arise unexpectedly. All you need is to act sensibly, and make the right healthcare decisions as the situation may demand.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Fertility Specialist

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