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Working With More Than One Doctor

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Topic Overview

Many people see more than one doctor or health professional. Your primary care doctor, such as your internist or family doctor, may refer you to another doctor for a problem. You may see a specialist for another health concern. You may need a surgeon.

Having many doctors can help you get the best care, but it also can cause problems. If you don't talk often to your doctors, or if your doctors don't talk to each other, you may:

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  • Be confused about which medicines you need to take.
  • Not know which doctor to ask about a health problem.
  • Be asked the same questions over and over, or be asked to repeat a medical test.
  • Become frustrated because you're getting different advice on your treatment.
  • Be more likely to experience medical errors.

You can avoid or reduce these problems and make things easier on yourself by working with your doctors. Below are some things you can do.

Have a health care team

When you have many doctors, think of them as your team. Tell each doctor that you expect him or her to talk with the other doctors about your care.

  • Write down your doctors' names and what they do in your care. Give each doctor a copy of this information.
  • Ask your primary care doctor to coordinate your care. He or she will know all the tests, medicines, and treatments you are getting and help you with any problems.
  • Ask your other doctors to tell your primary care doctor their treatment plans, including tests, medicines, physical therapy, surgeries, and food or exercise suggestions or limitations.
  • Ask your primary care doctor to help you list all your medical problems and treatment plans. This will help you and your doctor track your care and find problems more easily.

If you are being treated for both physical and mental health problems, be sure all your doctors know this. One problem can affect another problem. For example, a mental health symptom may make it hard to know that you have a physical problem. And some of the medicines used for mental health problems can lead to physical problems or make them worse.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 02, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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