Whether your doctor is a family doctor or a specialist (like a gastroenterologist), there are certain qualities to look for to help you get the care you need for your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Here is a checklist of questions to consider:
- Is your doctor sympathetic? Does he or she listen carefully as you explain your symptoms? Does he or she understand the real impact of IBS on your life? If you feel your doctor thinks your symptoms are trivial or "all in your head," it's time to move on.
- Does your doctor spend the time needed to explain and discuss your IBS?
- Does your doctor order many tests, but fail to explain the reason for them and the meaning of their results?
- Does your doctor regularly order medicines or diets without explanation of their risks and benefits?
- Are you able to get an appointment within a reasonable time?
- Is your doctor usually available, or do you often see a stand-in who is unfamiliar with your case?
- Does your doctor seem knowledgeable about your illness, yet willing to seek a specialist's advice for difficult issues?
- Perhaps most importantly, does the doctor inspire your confidence? Are you able to establish a good relationship? IBS is a long-term condition that will likely take twists and turns over time. You will be best served by a doctor who is your partner through this.
No doctor is perfect, but the answers to the above questions should help you decide. Remember, you are not married to your doctor. It is your right to find a new one and have your complete medical record transferred. On the other hand, too many changes can work against you.
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IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization. Our mission is to inform, assist, and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders.
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Adapted from IFFGD Publication # 236 by W. Grant Thompson, MD, FRCP(C), Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.