I am a woman living with HIV and I try my best to adhere to my infectious disease (ID) doctor’s treatment. However, sometimes I get sick and end up at the emergency room (ER). In those moments, I need the ER physicians that I interact with to actively communicate with my ID doctor about my treatment and care.
I have had experiences when an ER doctor would change my HIV medications, and it makes me worry. Then, when I go to my next ID appointment, my ID doctor is frustrated and wants to know why my medications were changed. Imagine how I feel as the patient! My meds being changed over and over again, and me, the patient, sick, stuck in the middle of two doctors who are not communicating with one another.
It is important to understand that an ER doctor is seeing you at one point in time. Your ID doctor knows your entire HIV history and what is normal for you. Before changing any medications to treat a momentary problem, ask your ER doctor to consult with your ID doctor. Putting something in your electronic medical record that your ID doctor may or may not see is not consultation. That is simply informing; not consulting.
What should you do if the ER doctor will not communicate with your ID doctor. I see that there are two other options:
1) Ask to speak to the ER doctor’s supervisor and share your concerns there. Remember, you can always go up the chain of command!
2) Try to get in contact with your ID doctor yourself. This could mean calling their office, emailing them, etc.
It is important that you and your ER doctor communicate with your ID doctors so everyone is on the same page about your treatment and care.
*This post was adapted from a message originally published in the “LTAI Calendar of Recommendations for Providers Serving the Positive Community.”