Visits to your doctors office are very importantparticularly if you are living with COPD. Your doctor will prescribe medications and ways to control your disease, and it is important that you understand your illness and how to manage it on a daily basis. How you manage your disease at home makes a big difference in your ability to enjoy life.
Time with your doctor is short and precious, so it is very important for you to prepare for your doctors once visit at home. Write down your progress, how you are doing, whether you are feeling better or worse, and if you are having new symptoms. Make note of day-to-day questions as they arise. Providing your doctor with highly accurate, detailed information will allow him/her to make the best decisions on your behalf. Bringing a family member with you can help ensure a full understanding of what has been said during your doctors visit and support implementation at home.
Education is considered to be a part of any visit with your doctor, however it is especially important when you have a chronic or lifelong illness such as COPD, explains Brian Tiep, M.D., Medical Director of the Respiratory Institute and Director of Pulmonary Rehabilitation at City of Hope Cancer Center. The ideal office visit will provide not only a medical exam but also training and reinforcement in techniques of selfmanagement.
Dr. Tiep provides his patients with a set of instructions including a Rapid Action Plan in case of a COPD flare-up or exacerbation, usually caused by infection. He prescribes medication to be stored in his patients medicine cabinet and available to be taken at the first sign of a problem. His patients call him early in the course of the flare-up and he directs them through it. His method ensures patients are rapidly treated, avoiding the need for hospitalization. Less than 4 percent of his patients flare-ups land them in the hospital. Information about Tieps program can be found at www.pulrehab.org.
Tiep says another benefit of the system is that it lowers costs in the doctors office visit and through the down line reduction of other health care costs including hospitalizations.
Tiep and his team also reinforce the patients exercise program so they can better recognize and treat a flare-up of COPD. While most patients do not want to bother their doctor during off hours, Tiep encourages them to call at the first sign of a problem.
I am not bothered by a call. I am bothered if the patient does not feel free to call and get help and as a result has a flare-up that goes out of control. I could have done something to prevent it from getting worse, he says.
Its important to be there for the patients when they need it. This partnership and guidance from your doctor is so important.