Lessons from Cecil
Choosing the Right Doctor
When You Have COPD
Our third segment will cover the selection of your doctors and the need to be able to communicate with them at an equal level.

The first thing to remember is your doctor works for you. He is no different than your plumber or electrician. He is not a "god" and is paid to perform a service. The difference being they are paid to perform the service of advising you on how to prolong and improve your quality of life. This is why it is important to have a good relationship and understanding with them. Below is a listing of what I have found to be the best way to determine if a doctor is compatible and is interested in working with you and not dominating you.

1. Initial requirements: In most cases it is understood that they should be in the approved list of your insurance company. Step one would be to get referrals from your friends, your local hospital or your Primary Care Physician if you are looking for a specialist. You might also go the website of the state medical association and check for the ratings and names of doctors in your area.

 2. Initial Contact: Once you have made your selection then call and set up an initial appointment. When you make the appointment bring a written list of questions that are of concern to you when working with a doctor and discussthem. If they refuse to discuss them or they not interested then that is not the preferred doctor. If the doctor seems interested in working with you and is receptive to your input then briefly explain what your objective is and you want to be active in your medical care. Using very carefully defined language explain that you are in a support group for quite sometime and have a patient's knowledge of your illness. This is to keep them from getting the idea that you want toinfringe on their territory. Ask if they are willing to accept that and work with you on your suggestions and ideas.

Insure that they have hospital privileges with the hospitals in your insurance group if applicable. Doctors are designated privileges for certain hospitals. I have personally been in a situation where I was admitted into the hospital and my doctor did not have privileges at that facility. This leaves you working with a strange doctor that you don't know and will never see again when you are discharged.

When all this is accomplished, you have decided what doctor you are going to use then comes the communication process. When making a doctor's appointment I always type a list of questions that I have and outline my illness and reason for seeing him prior to my appointment.This saves my time and theirs. They can read the notes and then make decisions, prescribe medications and schedule procedures without having to do a lot of explaining. It also allows me to collect my thoughts and insure that I don't forget anything when having a discussion with my doctor. They normally appreciate this.

I also print out a list of my medications with prescription numbers, prescribing doctor, dosing schedule and the name of the pharmacy I use. Also a list of my existing illnesses and when I quit smoking as well as how long I smoked and how much. Most nurses appreciate this because it saves them time writing. They have all the info accessible. Keeping the nurses happy will, in turn, improve your relations with your doctor and maybe a few extra privileges when visiting his office

.Summary:Realizing that this is all "ideal situation" material, it is not always possible or feasible to follow these guide lines. However, if the basics are followed then it should improve your medical support immensely.

 A few words of caution. If you get a doctor that gives you a certain amount of time to live check his palms for "nail holes." If there are none then get another doctor.This one is what I refer to as having the "god" syndrome and believes this is a terminal illness and will treat you as such.

In other words, keep you comfortable as possible, do the minimum to increase your quality and quantity of life. In essence he doesn't understand our illness and can be dangerous to our health.

Be pro-active in all areas and never ask for a second opinion only another option. Doctors now are more familiar with this illness than ever before but they still see an extraordinary amount of patients and can't always stay current on everything going on in the medical field. In the past I have taught my doctor a few things and she has taught me. We have a good working relationship and I hope this helps every one else to accomplish the same.

Cecil from Arkansas