I have an appointment with my family doctor and I really want to ask for a referral to a GERD specialist, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings. How should I approach this?
Requesting referral to a specialist or to another physician for evaluation or second opinion can be a very daunting and intimidating prospect. It does not have to be. Understand that a physician is interested in your health and well being and desires any patient to be as satisfied and healthy as possible. If you desire anything related to your health almost all physicians will oblige to any sincere request. They want you happy and healthy. Once you understand that they will not view a referral request as personally insulting, as you might think they would, the task becomes easier. In addition, anyone, including physicians will respond positively to a request for “help.” Also, in these busy times, physicians are often in and out of the room so fast, you may feel awkward stopping them, and “fitting in your request.” Request the referral early in the conversation so you are not catching him as he walks out the door. It is also of some help to have the name of a specific specialist you may like to see. Asking friends or those who have been treated by a specialist in your particular condition for a specific name is helpful. Remember, physicians are trained to help patients.
One example might be, “Dr. Jones, I am really concerned about my condition, will you help me? I understand Dr. Smith is very experienced in my condition and I might like to see him, or do you have someone you could recommend? I will be sure the records from my visit will be sent to you so my chart here will stay complete. Can you arrange this for me?”
Asking for “help” as well as making sure your doctor will be “kept in the loop” once you are referred are important. Allowing him input regarding whom you might see also facilitates the process.
Your doctor wants to help you and if you understand this, you will be more comfortable requesting a referral.