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Monday, June 14, 2010

How good is your asthma doctor?

So how do you know your doctor is doing a good job. I provide some good tips in a recent post at

Is Your Asthma Doctor Doing a good job?
by Rick Frea , Monday, March 22, 2010

How do you -- the asthma patient -- know if your asthma doctor is doing a good job? While there is no ideal way to compare doctors, there is a certain criteria you should expect your doctor to live up to. After all, you'll want to get the best care possible.

Even as a teenager I'd often wonder if my doctor was any good. I suspected he was a good doctor, but how was I to know?

Now, as a respiratory therapist who works with most of the doctors in my area, I know which ones are the best and, needless to say, I chose the best one for myself. Together we have forged a good patient/ doctor relationship.

That's the funny thing about medicine: we have a lot of faith in our doctors. We trust they are doing the right thing, yet how are we to know?

Well, one way is to keep up on your asthma wisdom which you are doing by hanging out here. With the advent of the Internet, and the recent emphasis by asthma experts on educating patients, I observe that patients are becoming wiser.

Still, how do you know your doctor is worth trusting? How do you know he or she is keeping up his or her end of the bargain?

One way you can tell if you have a good asthma doctor is that he or she answers your questions, and you don't leave an appointment unsatisfied. Yet, an even better way is by the questions your doctor asks you.

That in mind, in my review of the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institutes's Asthma Guidelines, I have found a list of questions you should be asked at every appointment:

  • How has your asthma been the past two weeks?
  • Have you missed any school or work since your last visit?
  • Have you had any episodes of worsening asthma symptoms since your last visit? If yes, What do you think caused the worsening symptoms? What did you do to control the episode?
  • How satisfied are you with your asthma care?
  • How can we improve your asthma care?
  • Do you have any concerns about your asthma action plan?
  • How can we improve your asthma care?
  • Have your asthma meds caused you any problems?
  • Have you been compliant with your medicine regime?
  • How many puffs of your bronchodilator (Albuterol) have you taken in the past two weeks?
  • Do you feel your asthma is managed well on the meds you are presently on?
  • What is the highest and lowest your peak flow has been the past two weeks?

The above questions were created based on the latest research that shows you better remember how your asthma has been the past two weeks, as opposed to, "Well, how has your asthma been the past year?"

That's a good point, considering I remember my doctor asking me how my asthma was the past year and me saying something along the lines of, "Um, well, I don't know."

"Well, did you get worse around spring? Were you worse in the fall?"

"Um, I don't know. Yeah, I was bad at times, but I don't remember exactly when."

Modern research proves that if a doctor wants to know how your asthma is doing in the spring, he should have you see him in the spring. If he wants to know how your asthma is doing in the fall, he should see you in the fall.

Likewise, missing school and taking more than the recommended puffs of your rescue inhaler can be signs your asthma is not well controlled. In this case, your doctor may need to alter your medicine regimen. He may also ask you the following:

  • Please show me how you measure your peak flow
  • When do you usually monitor your peak flow?
  • Do you know your early and late signs of asthma?
  • Do you feel confident with your asthma action plan?
  • Please show me how you use your inhaler
  • Have the costs of your asthma treatment interfered with your ability to get asthma care?

A good doctor is one who has you on all the best asthma medicines , makes sure you're being a gallant asthmatic , works with you on creating and adjusting an asthma action plan, reinforces what works, educates, listens, and knows the boundaries of his wisdom.

Well, you can't expect all asthma doctors to have patience, and to have good bedside manners -- although most do right? -- you should expect your doctor to fulfill his part of the asthma/ asthma patient team.

Of course there are all different types of asthma doctors , yet no matter what kind of doctor you have, you'll need to know he (or she) is one you can trust, and that he really, truly is doing a good job.

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