Backup Doctors

Last updated: May 2019

One of my biggest frustrations as a severe asthmatic is needing to go to the doctor and find out that either my regular doctor is unavailable that day or time or that I have been scheduled with someone else.  Whether it is with another doctor in the same practice or nurse practitioner or physician assistant, it’s not MY doctor.  I have a feeling there are many who can relate to this scenario.  Sometimes you are told in advance that you will be seeing a different provider while other times it may be a “sneak attack” and you don’t find out until you arrive for your appointment.  I think I speak for all of us when I say it’s SO FRUSTRATING!

While of course, we would rather see our regular doctor, sometimes it is unavoidable and we have to see someone else.  There are some things you can do to make the appointment more successful.

Your asthma action plan

While they should already have a copy of it on file, be sure to bring in a copy of your most recent asthma action plan to show the doctor you are seeing.  They might not know your entire asthma history unless you’re lucky and they had the time to research your chart and already know everything about you.  Your action plan can serve as a relatively quick reference for the doctor and can come in handy.

List of medications

Your asthma-specific medications should already be listed on your action plan, always bring a list of all of your medications that you are currently taking.  This is a good idea to have for every medical appointment regardless if it is your regular doctor or a different one.

Asthma journal

Bring your asthma journal or whatever tracking system you use to show the doctor.  You can show the doctor if there have been any trends in your asthma such as peak flow numbers, exposures to triggers, rescue inhaler usage etc.

History timeline

Something that I have gotten in the habit of doing for many years now is keeping a running timeline of my asthma history.  I have this timeline in a sort of list format in the back of my asthma journal.  There have been many times when I’ve seen a new doctor and forgot to include pertinent information about my asthma history.

Seeing a backup doctor can be tricky because you have a very limited amount of time to basically tell your entire asthma history to and try to come up with a solution to help manage your symptoms.  Which can be super difficult if you are in the middle of an asthma flare-up.  Ask the backup doctor to communicate his or her findings with your regular doctor.  It is also a good idea to email your doctor yourself to let him/her know how your appointment went.  Something else I have encountered with my doctors office in the recent past is when it is time to schedule a future follow up or regular checkup visit, they have tried to schedule me with a different provider which is when I will explain that I need to make my appointment with my regular doctor and not a different one in the same practice.  Continuity of care is essential for attaining and maintaining asthma control.  Unfortunately, sometimes we have to see someone else so being prepared as possible is extremely important. Your asthma will thank you!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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