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Going to the Nephrologist - 'Your Kidney Doctor'
You or someone you know may have been told to see a nephrologist. We created this page to help educate you on what we do, what to expect, and how to make the most of your appointment.
Click on the link “How Your Kidneys Work and Why They Are Important” to get a better understanding of how your kidneys function.
What is Nephrology?
It's not a word that most people hear every day, but nephrology (pronounced 'neffrology') is the medical specialty covering the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the kidneys -- including high blood pressure. A nephrologist is a physician who first trains in general internal medicine, and then trains for an additional 2 years in the sub-specialty of Nephrology. Sometimes nephrologists are called 'renal doctors' or 'kidney doctors.'
(Because they sound similar, it's easy to confuse the word nephrology with the word neurology. But they're totally different medical specialties. A neurologist is a physician who treats issues pretaining to the nerves in the body.)
Why Have I Been Referred to a Nephrologist?
Your family doctor or other healthcare provider determined through an examination or lab tests that you may have a medical problem best addressed by a kidney specialist. Common reasons to be referred to a nephrologist are as follows:
Although kidney problems may make you feel anxious, it is reassuring to know that your nephrologist has the expertise to help preserve kidney function and treat kidney failure.
Before the visit, prepare a written list of questions so that you can fully understand how your kidneys work and how the current condition is affecting your health. You may want to bring a notebook with you every time you visit so that you can keep track of all of the information you receive.
To help your nephrologist better understand your current physical state, be sure to bring with you all of the paperwork requested by your doctor’s office, which includes:
- Laboratory test results
- Radiology reports (CT scan, sonogram, etc.)
- Any special diet guidelines that you follow
- Any medications that you are currently taking
- A list of all of your current doctors with contact information
- Your and your family’s medical history
Plan to arrive **AT LEAST 15 MINUTES PRIOR** to your scheduled appointment, and bring the following:
- If you are a new patient, the completed New Patient Packet that was mailed to you, or click New Patient Packet.
- Your current insurance cards, including any separate prescription plan card
- A photo ID.
- All of your current medications in their original containers.
- Copies of any recent blood work, diagnostic testing or other medical records pertinent to your condition.
- A referral from your primary care physician, if required by your insurance carrier.
During Your First Visit
On your first visit, your nephrologist will gather information from you. He or she will review your medical history, and do a complete physical exam. To determine how your kidneys are functioning, he or she will order blood and urine tests. A kidney ultrasound may be required, and additional studies may be necessary.
When you meet with your nephrologist, it is important to be truthful about your health. Discuss what you see as possible stumbling blocks to good health. Are you a smoker who has tried to quit before but was not able to? Do you find it difficult to stick to a particular eating plan? Do you sometimes miss taking scheduled doses of your medications? These are important things your nephrologist should know about your health to better diagnose and treat your condition.
Be sure to ask all of your questions about treatment options. If there is anything that is not clear about your diagnosis or treatment plan, ask your doctor to explain it to you. Your nephrologist can answer medical questions that you and your support team may have. Please ask questions:
- Your nephrologist will not think poorly of you and will not be harsh in his/her answer.
- You’re not taking up too much of the doctor’s time.
- The doctor won’t think you don’t trust him/her if you question him or her.
- If you do not understand the medical terms in the doctor’s answer, tell him or her to explain in simpler terms until you understand.
The more you understand, the better informed you will be. The better informed you are, the more control you will feel over your kidney disease.
DHIN is the Delaware Health Information Network, also known as a 'Health Information Exchange,' or 'HIE' for short. It is a regional network of healthcare providers in Delaware and Maryland who can share patient data electronically. This capability reduces the likelihood of duplicate medical testing, increases the quality of care, and provides physicians access to a much more complete array of patient health records than had been available in the past. Nephrology Associates is proud to be a major DHIN subscriber. Our practice participated in the initial testing and design of the DHIN system, and continues to refine its capabilities with DHIN management. Please see the DHIN website at http://www.dhin.org/consumer for information about how to ‘opt-out’ of DHIN services.
CRISP. Nephrology Associates has chosen to participate in the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients, Inc. (CRISP), a regional health information exchange (HIE) serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. As permitted by law, your health information will be shared with this exchange in order to provide faster access, better coordination of care, and to assist healthcare providers and public health officials in making more informed decisions. You may 'opt-out' and disable all access to your health information available through CRISP by calling 1-877-952-7477, or by completing and submitting an Opt-Out form to CRISP by mail, fax or through their website at www.crisphealth.org.
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