Coordinating Your Doctors
If you have several doctors treating several different conditions, one doctor needs to take on the role of coordinator of your health care. Comorbid conditions may present overlapping symptoms; to prevent confusion and duplication, your medical records and test results should be made available to every doctor who is caring for you so they are all sharing the same pertinent facts.
Your Responsibility in Coordinating Your Doctors
Be sure all of your doctors are on the same page. Ask Doctor A's office if Doctors B, C, and D are getting copies of your reports and test results. Follow up when you see the other doctors to make sure they received the reports they should have received — don't just assume they did. Your medical care should be a coordinated and unified effort. Though your rheumatologist or primary care doctor will serve the role of coordinator, some of the responsibility is still yours.
Some patients will see a doctor other than their regular doctor for a second opinion. The doctor who is expected to offer a second opinion has little to no history on you. The doctor will base his opinion on the information you provide and whatever tests the doctor wants repeated or ordered for the first time.
Since the second-opinion doctors usually only see the patient for one or a few consultations, some have speculated that second opinions don't always add up. Dr. Scott Haig, a columnist for Time.com, suggested that marketing has shaped medicine into a patient-driven system, often inefficient and expensive. Haig rhetorically asks if compensating a good doctor properly wouldn't create a more efficient kind of health care, instead of patients being passed from one doctor to another.
There are some sound reasons for getting a second opinion, however. You may want to learn if another doctor agrees with your diagnosis or can offer different treatment options. Your doctor may recommend that you seek a second opinion and your health-insurance plan may even require it before approving a specific procedure.
The Problem with Having Multiple Doctors
With multiple doctors writing multiple prescriptions, you need to be sure of what was prescribed. Check that you can read the prescription before you leave your doctor's office. Have your doctor repeat the name of the medication and review the instructions; it's important for you to follow along.
Consider how many patients a doctor sees each week and how many prescriptions he writes: Doctors are human and the potential for mistakes exists. With your help, mistakes can be prevented, including: duplicate prescriptions for the same drug, prescriptions for a combination of drugs that can interact and cause adverse reaction, errors on the written prescription, and duplication of diagnostic tests
Some patients are comfortable leaving it all up to the doctors. Doctors are professionals, so it seems counterintuitive that the patient would have to double check anything. Think back about four decades; in the 1960s, doctors were actually revered by their patients.