When I had my first child, the baby books I had read made sure to explain the importance of interviewing pediatricians prior to the birth. Unfortunately, with Multiple Sclerosis we don't have that same luxury. But it's important to remember that switching doctors is a patient's right. If you don't feel completely comfortable with your current doctor, you should look for a new one. Below are some questions you may want to ask when searching for your next doctor.
Do you specialize in Multiple Sclerosis?
I've been to MS specialists and general neurologists and have been given excellent care by both. My only concern is that the general neurologist be up to date on the new therapies.
Is the initial evaluation covered by my insurance?
Often the initial evaluation requires a larger fee up front and insurance kicks in with the follow up visits.
How many Multiple Sclerosis patients do you care for?
You may not want to be one of only a handful of MS patients and get lost in the shuffle.
What are the percentages of the medicines that you prescribe?
Many doctors are partial to a specific therapy. They will prescribe it to ALL of their patients, and only try another if it is not well tolerated. It is your right to ask about a plan specific to your needs or lifestyle.
Once a baseline MRI is taken, what is the follow up plan?
This refers to any follow up when you are feeling "well." Is it a yearly check up? Will you be tested to see if your therapy is being tolerated by specific organs?
When I was first diagnosed, my doctor told me that the plan was to see how I was doing on every fifth MS anniversary. This became a significant marker for self evaluating my health.
If I'm feeling "weird", when should I let you know?
Sometimes the best way to stop a symptom is an immediate course of therapy. Other times, you just ride it out. Only a doctor can determine which is which.
Can I keep my MRI films?
It is always a good idea to not have to depend on anyone else to store your films. You never know when you may need them.
Do any of your MS patients receive alternative therapy?
It is interesting to find out this information to understand how your doctor thinks.
Are you affiliated with an MS Care Center?
Who can you reach out to for physical therapy? Is there an affiliated network that is recommended?
If a course of IV steroids are required, is it in a hospital or at home?
Your insurance may determine this, but it is a good idea to find out how the doctor prefers to treat patients. You may feel strongly, one way or another.