Specialists are doctors who have in-depth training and experience in a particular area of medicine. For example, a cardiologist has years of special training in dealing with heart problems. A visit to a specialist often costs more than a visit to your regular doctor, and the tests and treatments that you receive may be more expensive and invasive. Of course, specialists often provide the information you need to help you decide what to do about a major health problem and can perform certain procedures not available through your primary care doctor. For more information about specialists, see the topic Medical Specialists.
If you think you need to see a specialist but you have not been referred to one, discuss your concerns with your primary care doctor. When you do have a referral to see a specialist, a little preparation and good communication can help you get the most out of your visit. Before you go see a specialist:
- Know your diagnosis or expected diagnosis.
- Learn about your basic treatment options.
- Make sure that any test results or records on your case are sent to the specialist.
- Know what your primary care doctor would like the specialist to do (for example, take over the case, confirm the diagnosis, conduct tests).
- Ask your primary care doctor to remain involved in your care. Ask the specialist to send new test results or recommendations to both you and your regular doctor.