Patients should be asked about their diet, smoking and drinking habits every time they see a health professional.
National Health Service strategists are advocating this zero tolerance approach to tackle soaring rates of obesity, cancer and alcohol misuse.
This system is already in use in my wee bit of the NHS. I went to see my doctor recently with a suspected verruca and came out with a prescription for pills to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
This was because the doc spent most of the time on her computer analysing some blood tests I had months before and hardly took a look at the offending foot.
Naturally, I was pleased to be put on some preventative medication but disappointed that the doctor didn't spot the verruca was merely a corn.
My point today is that I am in favour of searching lifestyle questions during medical interviews. But I think patients should not always be on the receiving end.
Say to your GP: "It's my bad back again, doctor. But before we talk about that, I would like to ask you about your alcohol intake, bearing in mind all the festive gifts you got from grateful patients and even more grateful pharmaceutical companies. Remember, if the number of units you admit to appears too low I will be doubling it."
You might inquire of the ample nurse as to her consumption of cream buns and Cadbury's Dairy Milk. This would be best done after your flu injection, which is a sore enough jag at the best of times.
You might ask the receptionist if she has been on any interesting drugs recently. Anything hallucinogenic that gives you a feeling of absolute power and illusions of knowledge in all matters medical.
The principle of client questioning could usefully be extended beyond the NHS. Get an appointment with your bank manager to ask him how he spent his bonus. If it involved Havana cigars, say you will help him destroy them by fire.
Ask to inspect your bank manager's own current account, credit card, ISA and mortgage statements. Just so you can see how personal financial management should be done.
The concept can be applied to people who supply you with advice and services in all walks of life. Start by asking your cobbler if you can inspect his children's shoes.
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