THE MEDICAL TEAM: Dealing with Multiple Doctors
Managing the lines of communication among your diabetes-care team
Managing a team of healthcare providers—once you have been given permission by your loved one, preferably by being assigned her healthcare proxy—can challenge busy family caregivers. "The key is organization," says Alan M. Jacobson, MD, Alan M. Jacobson, MD, senior vice president at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. As the illness progresses and if complications develop, new physicians might join the healthcare team, and orchestration skills become increasingly essential, says Dr. Jacobson.
Here are some tips for coordinating doctors:
Have doctors' names and phone numbers readily accessible.
Be diligent about keeping track of medical appointments.
Maintain a log book documenting blood glucose levels and medical care.
If you don't attend medical exams, contact doctors before and after each visit to review what transpired.
Give each care provider a list of all medications taken, including over-the-counter meds and supplements.
At each visit, remind the doctor that the patient has diabetes and ask how a new medication might affect her condition. "We always tell the caregivers to speak up," says Lauren Golden, MD, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. "Sometimes the regular dose of a medication is too much and can trigger acute kidney problems," she says.
Establish a relationship with each physician to help ease the frustration often faced by caregivers trying to balance work responsibilities and caregiving logistics.
Make sure communication occurs between physicians. "You would expect doctors to talk to one another but the reality is they have busy practices," says Dr. Jacobson.
Consider sharing the burden. Does another relative have the time and the capability to help manage the medical appointments?
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