HOW TO MAXIMIZE AN OFFICE VISIT WITH YOUR KIDNEY DOCTOR
Being healthy, especially concerning kidney health, is not a passive process. It is important that you are an active member in the process. One example of this is knowing how to get the best out of your doctor visits. Doing so involves two steps. The first is preparing for the visit, and the second is the actual visit itself. The following information is geared towards visits with your kidney specialist specifically, but this process can and should be used with all of your healthcare providers.
|Stage 3 Kidney Disease Treatment|
Preparing for an Office Visit
Preparing for an office visit involves performing some of your own background checks. There are different ways of evaluating if a doctor may be the right fit for you, even before your first scheduled visit. For instance, you may know some friends or family members who can give you their opinions of the doctor. There are also websites you can go to, such as www.healthgrades.com, where you can see how the doctor is rated.
Many people are apprehensive the first time they are told they need to see a kidney doctor. When scheduling an initial visit with one, make sure she gives you enough time; in my practice, new patients are given an hour for their first visit. To prepare, write down a list of any questions you have and bring it with you. You should also bring a list of all of the medications you are taking, including dosages. Be sure to add any vitamins, herbs, supplements, and over-the-counter medications, as well, as everything you take matters.
During an Office Visit
Your office visits should be organized and efficient. Here is a checklist of what you should do during your appointments to maximize your time:
- If possible, bring a friend or family member with you. They can be a great source of support, ask questions you may not have even thought of, and provide comfort during visits.
- Be specific about any signs or symptoms you may have. Examples include those previously mentioned, including difficulty with urination or edema.
- Review your blood work with your doctor. Nephrology is a lab-based specialty, and it is important to understand your blood test results. Ask specifically about the GFR level, blood count, potassium level, and urine studies.
- Always get copies of your blood work and maintain your own file.
- Pay attention to the blood pressure obtained in the office, so that you can correlate it to what your readings have been at home. (Hint, hint. It is important to take your blood pressure at home.)
- Bring a pad and pencil, and write down everything the doctor says in terms of prescribed treatment. Make sure it makes sense to you.
- Ask any questions you have regarding prescribed treatment, especially medication. If something is prescribed, ask if it is brand name or generic. With blood pressure medication, for example, there may be a difference between the efficacy of the generic medication and the brand name. Also ask about what side effects you should look out for.
You should feel comfortable during the visit with your kidney doctor. If you do not, seek out other health professionals until you find one that meets your needs. Remember, your doctors work for you.
The relationship between you and your team of healthcare specialists is special. Adequate "face time" with your doctors is important in helping you make the best treatment decisions possible. Remember that you are responsible for your own healthcare. Your doctors and other healthcare providers can help you and give informed decisions; however, it is important to take an active role in your own kidney health, as it is ultimately in your hands. You are the MVP of your team. To find out more, you can check out Stage 3 Kidney Disease Treatment.