Learn About Your Doctor's Background
To learn more about your doctor's competence and experience, you may want to visit these two Web sites:
- Federation of State Medical Boards: This organization offers profiles on licensed doctors, osteopathic doctors, and physician assistants. For less than $10, you can find out facts about your doctor's education, any disciplinary actions, and certification, among other areas. Some information on licensed doctors may also be available online for free through the state medical board. To find a listing of Web sites for state medical boards go to this directory.
- American Board of Medical Specialties: This organization will tell you for free if your doctor is board certified in the specialty area that treats your disease. A doctor who is board certified has shown great expertise in a specific area of medicine. To find out if your doctor is board certified, call (866) 275-2267.
Interview the Expert
Once you find an expert in treating your disease you will want to interview him or her. In some cases you can call the office and speak directly to the physician for a couple of minutes at no charge. Other times you will need to schedule an initial visit. Ask these questions as you interview the expert:
- In what practice areas are you board certified?
- How many patients with my disease have you treated?
- What were the outcomes?
- Could I talk with a nurse or social worker who works with you?
You may also want to ask:
- At which hospitals do you have privileges to practice?
Know How to Reach Your Healthcare Providers
You need to know how to reach your healthcare providers, day or night. Find out the best ways to contact them. Some healthcare providers like email, while others prefer the telephone. Be sure to get their email addresses and/or phone numbers.
If your healthcare provider is not available when you call, leave a detailed message. This will help you avoid telephone tag. Tell the office it's OK to talk to a family member or leave a message if you're not able to come to the phone. You may need to give the office permission in writing.
Have a Mental Health Professional on Your Team
With serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses like aplastic anemia, MDS and PNH, it is often helpful to have a mental health professional on your team. This may include a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist or psycho-oncologist. They can provide valuable emotional support and help you manage the stress, anxiety, depression and other emotional symptoms you may experience. Be sure to let your doctor know if you are experiencing any emotional symptoms and don't be afraid to ask for a referral.