How to be Your Own Health Advocate and Take Control of Your Health Records!
When you are dealing with any illness it can be very hard to get to the bottom of your symptoms and their causes. We are currently dealing with this very thing with our daughter Ella. (You can read more about her on the acid reflux site). It is very frustrating to have multiple opinions as to treatments and to have one doctor tell you to do one thing and another to tell you something opposite. I hope that this has not happened to any of you but if it has there are some things you can do to help.
Make sure your medical records get where they are supposed to be. If you have had testing ordered by a GI make sure that the results have also been faxed to your primary care physician. Your primary care physician should be looking at the overall picture of your health and will need those results in order to do so. It may help to get your own copy to take with you should you visit a new physician. Do not assume your last doctor sent the information along. We are still waiting for our daughter's pedi to be "copied in" on her GI testing results from three weeks ago.
The same goes for any changes to your medication schedule. If your prescribing physician has not forwarded the information on at least make sure you have a current list of prescriptions for any future doctor's visits. That way if your GI changes a medicine your primary care physician will know and if your primary care physician changes something your GI will know as well. Be sure to include the dosages and instructions for each of the medications on your list.
It can also be very helpful to have a good relationship with your pharmacist and have all of your medications filled at the same pharmacy. This can help prevent dangerous interactions by having that third party to review your prescription history. Make sure to let your pharmacist know if you are taking any OTC medications too! A good pharmacist can also help you come up with alternatives to medicines that are too expensive or that have side effects you are unwilling to deal with.
Yesterday as I watched Oprah describe her own ordeal with obtaining an accurate medical diagnosis I felt very much like her... with my own medical problems and my daughter's. Oprah talked about how she sat all of her doctors together in a room and talked over her issues. Some of you may have had that luxury yourselves but most people I know have never been able to get that accomplished. I believe we would have a much more efficient health care system if that would happen for ALL patients.
Until then, check out some of the tips on Oprah's website. I found them to be very helpful and empowering. Take control of your healthcare, including your records, and you might just find that it improves your treatment plan as well!