Often, when we are afflicted with symptoms, we can get an incomplete or incorrect diagnosis from a general practitioner. Delays can be costly and even serious if you get the wrong diagnosis. This is why so many people choose to see a specialist.
It is common that people will see a primary care physician and take the recommended course of action, but they still don’t get better. Oftentimes a primary care physician will simply prescribe antibiotics without ever getting to the root of what is causing your symptoms. There comes a time when you should see a specialist. It may be necessary for your own well being.
Medicine has vastly improved in the last century and specialized medicine is becoming the norm. The days of your primary care physician or general practitioner solving every problem are gone as medicine has become increasingly sophisticated. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 1999 and 2010, annual visits to specialists increased by 21%.
When You Should Consider Seeing a Specialist:
If you have been seeing a primary care physician or any form of general practitioner but things aren’t working, then you have likely thought about seeing a specialist. If you experience any of the following then you might want to think about seeing a specialist.
- If you are faced with chronic pain and you have tried several different treatments
- If you have a myriad of seemingly unrelated symptoms and you are getting a multitude of unsatisfactory diagnoses then you should consider seeing a specialist.
- If your primary care physician or a general practitioner is unfamiliar with any treatments that you have uncovered in your own research then you should consider seeing a specialist.
- If you get better for a short time and then your symptoms continue to return then you should consider seeing a specialist.
- If you have recently been diagnosed with a life-changing diagnosis that will radically alter your life, then you should consider seeing a specialist.
- If you require radical new treatment with advanced new technology, then you should consider seeing a specialist.
How to Find a Specialist:
If you’re going to see a specialist, then finding the right specialist can be difficult. Specialists can be very academic. Their perspective is by definition reductionist, and they can be known to see you as just one particular organ or biological system. It is important to find a specialist that you communicate well with.
– Finding a Specialist Online –
Many people try and find a medical specialist online. This can be unreliable because you have no idea what you are getting. Oftentimes reviews are unreliable, such as this story of a woman who was an extreme insomniac and finally scored an appointment with a highly-reviewed sleep specialist only to be prescribed more sleeping pills which weren’t working for her. If you are going to try and find a doctor online through reviews, then be sure to find a website that only uses patient reviews. This means that all the data comes from the opinions of actual patients. Also, make sure that the website does not promote doctors who pay for the website’s promotion.
If you must find a specialist near you, then the following webpages can help:
*To learn more about finding a specialist online, click here.
– Finding a Specialist Abroad –
If you’re an expat living abroad, then it can be a challenge finding a specialist near you—especially if you don’t speak the language. Some review websites can help you when you are trying to find a specialist abroad.
RateMDs.com has doctors in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States, UK, and India. However, they do not have listings on doctors in every country.
If you are looking for a specialist abroad, then you might want to become a member of the International Medical Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT). This Canadian nonprofit organization has helped connect thousands of patients with medical professionals in over 80 countries since 1960. Members enjoy fixed-rate services from specialists, physicians, hospitals, and clinics abroad.
– Finding a Specialist Through Word of Mouth –
One of the most popular ways to find a specialist is through word of mouth. If you have trusted friends or family members who have seen a specialist successfully, this is one of the best ways to find a specialist. Social media like Twitter and Facebook can help you ask friends and family for specialists if they live in your area. Try Facebook’s recommendations setting.
*To learn more about Facebook’s recommendation setting, click here.
If Your Doctor Recommends That You See A Specialist:
In most cases, you will see a specialist when your primary care physician recommends it. Referrals to another doctor increased by 94% in the decade between 1999 and 2009. If your primary care physician or any general practitioner should recommend that you see a specialist, then you should make an appointment immediately.
However, it has been known to occur that a patient was simply referred to a specialist because the primary care physician was dealing with time constraints. Every specialist that you add to the list will want to run their own tests and procedures which can vastly increase your out-of-pocket costs—let alone if you want a second opinion. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right specialist.
How to Choose a Specialist:
Choosing a specialist can be just as difficult as finding a specialist. If you need to see a specialist, then you here are some things to consider when you are choosing a specialist:
– Choosing a Specialist That Communicates Well –
Choose a specialist that can explain your condition simply, one who listens to you patiently and attentively, gives frank and helpful advice and presents options clearly. And most importantly: choose a specialist who will listen to you and your needs.
– Choosing a Specialist Based on Qualifications –
If you are choosing a specialist based on qualifications, make sure that their qualifications are not only academic. Ask them if they have real-world experience treating these conditions. Unfortunately, if you suffer from an extremely rare condition, then you may face limited options as to who specializes in these one-in-a-million conditions.
– Choosing a Specialist Based on Cost –
Let’s be realistic. Specialist care can be expensive. Specialists oftentimes are unaware of financial costs. If finances are one of your concerns, then try and find a specialist who won’t run all the tests, but one who will run the right tests. Medicare may not cover a private specialist. Look into what your healthcare and insurance options are, what providers they work with, and discuss your financial situation openly with your specialist.
*If you’re interested in comprehensive healthcare for expats abroad, click here for a free quote.
What To Do When You See A Specialist:
Before you see a specialist, it is important to come prepared. Here is a list of suggestions and guidelines that can help you prepare for your visit to see a specialist:
– Before You See A Specialist –
- Get your test results and medical history together
- Write down a complete list of your symptoms
- Note any changes in lifestyle that coincide with symptoms
- Write down all medications and treatment that you are taking
- Have your insurance details, test results, and referral letter with you
– When You See A Specialist –
When you see a specialist, be sure to mention any of the information above. Also, here is a list of questions that can benefit you when seeing a specialist:
- Is the diagnosis by my primary care physician correct?
- What treatments do you recommend? Do I have any options?
- How experienced are you with all of these treatments and options?
- How effective can I expect this treatment to be?
- What are the side effects of this treatment? Are there any risks?
- How soon can I have this treatment? Can you call me if another patient cancels?
- What if I opt out of this suggested treatment?
- Can I delay or cancel the treatment if necessary?
- How long does recovery of the treatment take?
- What care will I need at home after my treatment?
- Are there any major changes in my life that I should be making?
- What else can I do to stay better informed?
– After You See A Specialist –
After you see a specialist you will likely feel an overwhelming sense of relief. However, you must continue to stay vigilant. Be sure to follow up on these points:
- Follow up on any test results, stay on top of when they will be ready
- Make other appointments with other medical professionals if told to do so
- Ensure that you know where to get your medication and how to take it
- Be sure to call your specialist if you have any follow-up questions. They are obligated to answer any follow-up questions and concerns.
Types of Specialists:
There are several different types of specialists to choose from. Some specialists can focus on a particular disease, some specialists specialize in a specific procedure, and other specialists focus on a particular organ. Here is a brief list of specialists:
Anesthesiologist: Specialist in anesthesia and its equipment
Cardiologist: Specialist in heart conditions
Dermatologist: Specialist in skin conditions
Endocrinologist: Specialist in the system of hormones in the body and its organs
Gastroenterologist: Specialist in digestion, its organs, and any conditions
Gynecologist: Specialist in the female reproductive system and genital tract
Hematologist: Specialist in blood disorders
Neurologist: Specialist in the nervous system and its conditions
Obstetrician: Specialist in pregnancy and childbirth
Oncologist: Specialist in cancer and types of tumors
Ophthalmologist: Specialist in eye conditions
Orthopedic Surgeon: Specialist in the skeleton and musculature
Otorhinolaryngologist: Specialist focusing on the nose, throat, and ear canals
Pediatrician: Specialist in infants, toddlers, and youths
Plastic Surgeon: Specialist who focuses on cosmetic surgery
Psychiatrist: Specialist in problems of the mind such as mental and emotional trauma
Pulmonologist: Specialist in diseases and symptoms of the lungs
Radiologist: Specialist in X-Rays and other medical imaging technologies
Rheumatologist: Specialist in inflammation of joint pain and muscle soreness
Urologist: Specialist in the urinary tract and the male reproductive system
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