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Preparing for first appointment with hepatologist

Dec 05, 2012 - 0 comments

questions for hepatologist

Here is a copy of a list that Orphaned Hawk posted in her journal and a list that Hector SF posted in a thread that contain good information and some questions people may wish to ask at their first appointment with the hepatologist.  Thank you to OH and Hector SF for sharing.  I am re-posting in my journal for easy reference.

Questions for the hepatologist:

1. How experienced are you in dealing with Hep C?

2. Do I need a biopsy before treatment?

3. How often will I be doing labs during treatment?

4. What is your protocol for dealing with low WBC or RBC?

5. What about other side effects?

6. How often will I be seeing you during treatment?

7. Who do I contact in an emergency?

8. Will I be able to have copies of all my labs and tests?

9. Will you be available via phone or email to answer my questions?


Here is another list of questions that HectorSF posted in a thread:

1. Be prepared. Take the time before your appointment to write down all of your medications, any pertinent allergies, a brief medical history, and your chief health concerns. Include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your primary care provider and any specialists that might be linked to your current medical issue.

2. Before your medical appointment, write down your questions and prioritize them.

3. Maintain your own health records. It can really help expedite matters if you bring copies of your most recent pertinent medical reports.

4. Make eye contact before speaking to your medical  provider. Once you
begin speaking, your provider may take notes. This does not mean s/he is not listening.

5. Before you start with your list, ask how much time the provider has for
questions. Respect these limits and you will benefit in the long run.

6. Prioritize your health issues. Be brief but clear.  Start with the most important details and if there is time, you can add the less important information at the end. If you have any fears or feelings, discuss them. It can be reassuring to learn that your symptoms have nothing to do with some disease you have been dreading.

7. When describing your symptoms, begin with the general picture and end
with the specifics. Example: My stomach hurts. I feel nauseous in the morning.

8. Ask for clarification. If your doctor uses words or explanations you do not understand, ask her to clarify or simplify her words.

9. Take notes. If the doctor makes suggestions, write them down. Ask him to spell any words you might want to refer to later, such as a diagnosis, medication or procedure. If during the appointment you don’t have time to write everything down, write your notes immediately after while sitting in the lobby or your car.

10. Take a friend, loved one or an advocate. This is especially important for appointments that may be long, complicated, or not routine. Ask your companion to take notes for you. If it’s alright with your provider, you can also audiotape the appointment.

11. If medication is prescribed, ask what the common side effects are and how the medication should be taken.

12. Express your reservations. If your doctor suggests a treatment plan that you have some concerns about, let him/her know. Sometimes these concerns can be easily addressed.

13. Ask if there are any alternatives. If your doctor makes a treatment suggestion and it is not one that you are prepared to follow, ask about other options.

14. Keep an open mind. This can be your strongest ally. It is amazing how many people will avoid a medication because of their fear of side effects, only to find out later that the reality was not anywhere near what they imagined.

15. Ask the physician if there are resources or support groups he/she would recommend.

16. Discuss the follow-up plan. If you are scheduled to have diagnostic tests, ask the doctor when you can expect the results and how these results are conveyed to you. When does your provider want to see you
next? Ask if there are any signs or symptoms that could be urgent and should be reported immediately. If the results are going to be disclosed at your next appointment and if there is going to be a long interval between appointments, ask how you can obtain earlier results.  Additionally, ask the physician what is the best way to contact his office should a need arise that may not require an office visit.

17. If this is a follow-up appointment, ask for copies of diagnostic test results and surgical reports.  This sets a standard that you are the manager of your health care.  It also makes it easier to give copies to
other health practitioners.

18. If you run out of time and still have more questions on your list, ask how you might be able to get the answers to your questions without disrupting the physician’s schedule.  Ask if you can leave a copy
of the questions along with the request that they call you back within a specified time frame.

Some questions to ask your doctor...

1. Do I need to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B?

2. What is my genotype? What does my genotype mean?

3. Do I have liver damage? If so, how much liver damage is there?

4. What are my treatment options?

5. Is there one treatment you think is best for me?

6. Are there any clinical trials?

7. What are the benefits of each treatment option?

8. What are the potential risks of each treatment option?

9. How can I protect the people around me from hepatitis C?

10. Do I need to start treatment for hepatitis C now?

11. How will this treatment interact with my other medications?

12. How will you assess whether the treatment is working for me?

13. What should I do if I have side effects? How can I manage the side effects?

14. What are symptoms to pay attention to and look out for?

15. How likely is it that I will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer?

16. If I do not start treatment now, how often should my liver be monitored for liver damage?

17. How often should I see a liver specialist? Primary care physician?

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