Working With Your Doctor


Working With Your Doctor

In a March 2012 issue of GP Online a Dr Jacobi wrote an article aimed at his fellow GPs on "The Basics of Managing Fibromyalgia". This is a very positive article and is invaluable to you as a sufferer to help manage your Doctor:

Click here to download "The Basics of Managing Fibromyalgia"
(1.43MB PDF document).

American Doctor David Edelberg has written a Physician's Guide to Fibromyalgia which is also an interesting read:

Over the years we have tried very hard to accumulate a comprehensive list of sympathetic doctors but, as you can see from the links below, the results have been far from comprehensive. In a March 2012 issue of GP Online a Dr Jacobi wrote an article aimed at his fellow GPs on "The Basics of Managing Fibromyalgia". This is very positive article and is invaluable to you as a sufferer to help manage your Doctor:

FM friendly doctors in the UK

Find a Doctor in the FM Forum

Finding a FM friendly doctor

This is the trying-on time. Trust your gut feeling. Your main goal is to interact with each doctor, checking for a comfortable fit and the ability to work together as a team. This is not the time, however, to ask about specific problems, such as why your knee is swollen today. That would require an examination.

Plan to arrive early and listen to the conversations in the waiting room. Are the patients complaining? Can you overhear conversations from the front desk? Observe the facilities for cleanliness, privacy and accessibility. In the interview room, can you overhear nurses talking, or worse, arguing? Is the staff pleasant and happy to be there?

When you greet the doctor, give her two lists. One, a list of your current medications. Two, a short list of your medical problems or symptoms. Be brief. You just want to know if the doctor treats the disorders that you have. For example, state “gall bladder removed 1996,” not every belch that led up to the surgery.

Also prepare a list of specific questions you want to ask the doctor. Remember, this is a 10 to 15 minute interview. You want to address your biggest concerns, so list your most important questions first. Then be sure to take your list with you! Examples of questions to ask the doctor:
  • Are you comfortable with diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia
  • How many FM patients have you treated?
  • Are you familiar with my other conditions?
  • What medications do you usually prescribe for fibromyalgia? Do you have a problem with prescribing the medications that I am taking? What is your policy on refills? (Be specific, especially with narcotics.)
  • What do you feel is adequate pain control?
  • Can you treat depression or must I see a specialist?
  • Are you familiar with alternative therapies? How do you feel about _______? Fill in any alternative therapies you currently use or are interested in trying, such as herbal supplements, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc.
  • One of the problems I had with my last doctor was feeling that she didn’t really listen to me. How can you and I communicate best?
  • Sometimes I find articles on fibromyalgia in FaMily magazine that are helpful. Would you be willing to review them?

Be honest with yourself about what did not work with your last doctor. Whether experienced in treating fibromyalgia or not, you want a physician who is willing to take the time to learn from you and with you. A doctor who teaches keeps up-to-date. At the very minimum, you need a doctor who believes that fibromyalgia is a real disorder!

During your exam, be clear about your expectations. Statements such as, “I need a diagnosis,” or “I need better pain control,” or “I need help deciding whether to cut back at work,” will tell the physician exactly what you require. At this visit, you can focus more closely on the cleanliness, privacy and confidentiality of the office. Also note the doctor’s listening skills, attention to detail and respect for you. Did she handle your whole case, not just focus on depression as the cause of all your ills? Did she offer ideas and suggestions? Did she exit before all your questions were answered? If you are not pleased with the results of this visit, keep interviewing other doctors until you are satisfied.

Reflect upon the visit and jot down your impressions. Did the doctor’s sense of humor hit you just right or seem offensive? Pay attention to body language. Did you get good eye contact and a smile that crinkled the eyes? Did she believe in fibromyalgia? Were your questions answered? Did she listen with patience? Importantly, do you and she agree on the topics that concern you the most?

See also: Doctor Information Sheet


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