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Multiple Health Conditions (Comorbidity)

Doctors 101 When You Have More Than One Health Condition

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Whether choosing a doctor as a primary care doctor, a specialist or a doctor for a second opinion, in addition to the factors to consider which are described in the linked articles, also consider whether the doctor is willing to work as a team with your other doctors and professional and personal care team.

To get appropriate and effective treatment, it is important to be evaluated and treated as a whole which includes all health conditions. The whole patient approach takes into account:

  • Side effects that may affect other health conditions.
  • The interaction of the various drugs used to treat the conditions and side effects.

To help assure that your care is coordinated, consider appointing one doctor to oversee your health and treatments. As a general rule, it doesn't matter whether the doctor is your primary care doctor or one of your specialists who she agrees to take on this role. 

  • It is up to you to make sure that the supervising doctor is constantly kept to date. Michael R. does this by reminding each doctor at the end of each appointment to send the supervising doctor notes from the appointment. He also checks with the supervising doctor when he sees him to be sure notes were received from his other doctors for the appointments he had since his last visit with the supervising doctor. (Michael keeps a list of his appointments so he doesn't have to try to remember them).  
  • At the least, encourage each doctor to make contact with your other doctor(s) or at least the supervising doctor if there is a change in the condition the doctor treats or in your side effects. What may not be an important change to one specialist, may be a bell ringer to a doctor who specializes in a different health condition.

In order to avoid your health conditions taking over your life, try to schedule doctor appointments for one or two days during the week.

NOTE: To maximize time with your doctor, keep in mind the following, each of which are described in depth in Doctors 101.

  • Learn what you need to know about each health condition.
  • A good relationship depends on your approach to the doctor as well as his or hers to you. It also involves maximizing your time together, and working on smoothing out any bumps in the relationship.If necessary, change doctors. 
  • It is advisable to record or take notes of each session. Keeping track of more than one condition can be difficult. If you take an advocate with you to doctors' appointments, it can help if the same person or people go with you to appointments for each condition to help you keep an overview.
  • If you need it, there are doctors who make housecalls.

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