Dr. Albert Chmielewski Outlines 10 Frequently Asked Questions for Family Physicians
Given the high volume of patients that family physicians tend to weekly, it should come as no surprise that they encounter a wide range of questions. Although most pertain to certain treatment options, Dr. Albert Chmielewski states that there are various questions he is asked on a regular basis. A family doctor from Johnson County Kansas, he takes the time to outline the top 10 inquiries he receives from patients.
1. I am looking for a family doctor, are you accepting new patients?
One of the most common questions asked by new patients, states Dr. Albert Chmielewski. He explains that not all clinics have the capacity to accept new patients at all times. When a new patient moves to a new area, they often are in need of a new physician; he is frequently asked if he is accepting new patients at his clinic, as patients want to establish a base for their primary care needs. Most patients will be happy to hear that many clinics now have protocols in place that state a clinic must have at least one provider that is accepting new patients, and Dr. Chmielewski, has always been one of those providers.
2. Do you take my insurance? Do you offer self-pay pricing?
Not all physicians and clinics accept all health insurance plans, and network physicians can sometimes be hard to come by depending on the type of insurance and the patient’s location. For those that are without insurance, it is always a good idea to find a physician that accepts self-pay, and to look at pricing to see what works best and what is affordable. In my experience, almost all clinics accept self pay patient’s and allow cash, credit card, or a health savings account card as forms of payment.
3. When will I hear back from you about tests, referrals to specialists or procedures?
Patients inevitably get anxious when waiting for test results or when attempting to book a specialist appointment or a procedure. Although all concerns are justified, it can be challenging to provide an exact answer as to the timing. Dr. Chmielewski claims that he does his best to reach out to his patients in a timely manner; however multiple factors such as loss of staff due to illness or a family emergency can at times delay a call back about labs or appointment status. Fortunately, clinics often offer online services where a patient can look up their lab results, send a message to a nurse, or even book an appointment on their computer or through an application on their phone.
4. What resources are available to me as a patient?
With the advent of the internet, many patients are beginning to take their health into their own hands says Dr. Albert Chmielewski. After learning about a diagnosis, many patients try to figure out what resources are available to them to better educate themselves about their health, and how to help prevent their conditions from getting worse. Resources such as local help groups, free lectures online, free or income-based clinics, free or highly discounted gym memberships or water aerobics classes, and many others are typically available in most communities.
5. Can I still travel when I am ill?
After a new diagnosis, whether an acute or chronic illness, patients may not fully understand what limitations they now face in their daily life. For those with an upcoming trip, they may fear an inability to travel, particularly long distances. Many conditions can put limitations on travel, especially when involving infectious diseases, heart disease or history of stroke, or when needing additional support such as oxygen therapy. Since this question is on a case by case basis, it should always be discussed with your primary care provider so that a reasonable, safe, and agreeable decision can be made between the patient and the physician for what may or may not be safe travel.
6. What are my treatment options?
All patients want to know what they can do to help themselves get better, or what will effectively treat their ailment or illness. This question is almost a knee-jerk reaction when told of a new diagnosis, as patients want to instantly plan for a path to better health and a possible cure. Patients don’t necessarily want to be given medications, and there are many alternative treatment options available that can be explored. The decision about possible treatment options, whether allopathic or osteopathic, and future prognosis of the illness in question, should always be discussed with the patient’s primary care provider.
7. What are the side effects of this new medication?
Almost every patient when being started on a new prescription medication will ask this says Dr. Albert Chmielewski. It is a known fact that all medications have some sort of possible side effect, and patients are well within their rights to know before being started on something new. He does clarify that this is something that doctors will explain to their patients regardless of being asked, and it is the responsibility of the physician to continue to monitor patients for possible side effects throughout the course of their treatment. If a patient thinks they are having a side effect, especially if serious, it is recommended to immediately contact your primary care provider.
8. Would medication “XYZ” be suitable for me?
With TV advertisements and magazine ads constantly telling patients about new treatment options for different diseases, individuals are curious to inquire whether or not it would be the right fit for them. Dr. Albert Chmielewski explains that while it’s a good thing that patients are taking more of an interest in their own health and novel medications, these ads can sometimes end up being more harmful as some patients may become insistent on starting a medication that is not right for them or one that may interact with a medication they are already taking. However, there are times that the physician will suggest a new medication on the market as it may, for example, be more effective with fewer side effects.
9. What can I do to prevent my condition from getting worse?
As society becomes more health conscious, patients are trying to proactively work on preventative measures themselves. With a new diagnosis, they are genuinely curious on options that can reverse the disease, or ones that can help prevent its progression. Be wary however of everything you read on the internet or hear from a friend or family member because not every “remedy” is necessarily appropriate. As always with starting any new treatment for a medical condition, I strongly recommend consulting with your physician first.
10. What are my risks for developing disease “XYZ”, especially given my family history?
Finally, a question commonly asked of Dr. Albert Chmielewski is how my risk factors for certain diseases compare to the general population. In a society that has access to almost all aspects of medicine, patients are now more fearful of disease than ever, constantly worrying about if they are at risk for a particular disease, especially when they have a family history of it. Dr. Albert Chmielewski states that conducting a thorough patient history including family history to look for risk factors is imperative; and if a patient is indeed at higher risk, for example of heart disease or colon cancer due to a strong family history, he coordinates further work-up, such as heart stress testing or a screening colonoscopy.