Leukaemia Foundation

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Choosing Your Treating Doctor

It can be a challenging time for some people when they choose which doctor they would like to treat their blood cancer. Others are happy for their GP to refer them to a treating specialist of the GP's choice.

We are very lucky that we have a highly regulated medical system in Australia that ensures treating practices are fairly standardised across the country. It is not easy to find information on the medical outcomes of individual treating specialists for a specific condition, or to find out who are the leading experts in Australia for your condition. Some places you might like to explore information may include:

  • your GP
  • Your private health insurance agency (if you have private health insurance). The private health industry keeps data on treatments given and health outcomes for individual private practioners and facilities that you might find useful.
  • The 'My Hospitals' website: http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/

It is important that you feel comfortable with your specialist doctor. People often differ in the type of relationship they expect with their doctor. Some prefer their doctor to be the 'technical expert' and seek their emotional support elsewhere, while others want their doctor to give them emotional support as well. Many people want an honest, open and easy communication with their doctor. This helps to build trust which is an essential part of a good therapeutic relationship. You may want to be treated by a doctor and team that are closer to your home.

The doctor is an important member of the treating team but he or she cannot necessarily meet all of your physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Meeting these needs often involves input from other members of the team including the nurses, socialworker, counsellor, psychologist and pastoral care workers.

If for any reason you are feeling uncomfortable with your specialist doctor, you can always ask to be referred to another doctor. Your general practitioner (GP) or the patient representative at the hospital may be able to help you with this if you don't wish to raise the issue directly. In some cases, discussing what you feel is 'not working' in your relationship with your specialist doctor can be helpful. Health professionals like doctors appreciate the importance of establishing a good therapeuticrelationship with patients so don't be afraid to ask them to be referred to someone else if you feel this is necessary.

Remember, you can always request a second opinion regarding any aspect of your diagnosis or treatment if you feel this isnecessary at any time.