I attended a conference on Multiple Sclerosis this weekend presented by the Colorado MS Society and Healthsouth Rehabilitation hospital. The turn out was small, but those who attended certainly received lots of great information. The speakers included a neurologist, a social security representative and an attorney who specializes in appeals for disability.
At the start of the day I was speaking to a representative from a drug company when a woman approached the table looking for information. She shared that her mother has late onset MS and she was here to gather information. When asked about her mother’s medical care the woman responded that her mother was seeing an internist. My eyes and the eyes of the two drug reps grew wide with amazement, shock and bewilderment.
I believe that General Practitioners and Internists are great for two things: the every day illnesses we face like colds, flu, infections, more common illnesses and in addition I believe they are terrific diagnosticians. It is their responsibility to continue asking the questions so that a proper diagnosis can be made. This does two things: gets the patient the proper care and allows the physician to know there is another provider they can partner with on this particular patient.
It is crucial that once you receive a diagnosis for a chronic or life-threatening illness that you get a referral to a specialist. The specialist should have a background in your disease and treat many patients with that diagnosis. The specialist has additional training and keeps informed on the latest treatments, studies and clinical trials for medication. They are the experts and for any specific illness a specialist is your best chance at health and wellness.
The neurologist who spoke at the conference this weekend shared that she has 500 patients with MS in her practice. She’s connected to a community that focuses on options for MS patients both clinically and in the arena of social services. One of the keys to being a good health advocate is getting the best care available to you. This is not the time to pick a doctor because you’ve been seeing them for ten years. Your health status has changed and this is no time for allegiance, but to find a provider who understands your disease process and helps you make strides toward wellness.
Don’t settle for less than expert care!