The frequency and duration of Nephrologist-contact is important for increasing the life expectancy of dialysis patients whether home, peritoneal, nocturnal or in-center. A new study which has implications for all dialysis patients found that more frequent and longer patient-doctor contact in the hemodialysis care setting was inversely associated with mortality and hospitalization. The results further suggest that each 5 minutes shorter duration of contact was linked with a 5 percent higher risk of dying. What does this mean for dialysis patients generally?
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Frequent routine meetings will allow your Nehprologist to diagnose any issues you may be having with your treatment or medications right away to address any new side effects or any other symptoms. Also, s/he may help you head off possible illnesses. For example, if you have a mole on your skin that has changed in color or size, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist (skin doctor) to perform a biopsy to check for skin cancer. Though you may be feeling well you should still maintain frequent visits with your Nephrologist.
Use your time wisely by planning what you are going to discuss with your Nephrologist before the visit. According to Eric Van De Graaff, MD, " I offer them another chance to dig up any questions they have and I’m met with utter silence." Therefore, even if you already know your Nephrologist the following tips may be helpful:
- Write down important questions you would like answered.
- Note your medications, dosages, and how often you take them.
- Bring most recent test results from lab work.
- Take notes during visit including next steps for your care.
- Make follow up appointment with the doctor.
- At home, review notes and take recommended action.
How often should you be seeing your doctor is entirely between you and your doctor. The two of you will come up with some type of balance that works best. Just understand that your survival may depend on the frequency and duration of your doctor visits.
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