Saturday, January 9, 2021

Diagnosing the tricky stuff: why you should stay in touch with your GP

This happened a few years ago. I had an unexplained fever. I discussed with my nephrologist and we went over all the possibilities related to dialysis but could not conclude what the cause might be. He then suggested that I saw a General Practitioner (GP). The advice startled me at first. Why would he, a nephrologist, send me to a GP? After all, we were well past the days where a GP was all you saw when you were sick. These were the days of specialists and super-specialists.

I was mistaken.

There are many things that a GP does which no specialist can do. The wide insight into a variety of conditions is one of the best gifts they have. They may not know any one subject very deeply, but they know enough about a variety of subjects to figure out what is wrong. GPs are excellent at initial diagnosis.

Well, specialists these days also know how to deal with most common conditions. Especially in conditions like Chronic Kidney Disease, where patients consult their doctors over several years, specialists also become adept at treating regular conditions.

However, there are still some tricky problems where they defer to the experience of a GP. 

Take my fever, for example.

My nephrologist asked me to see the GP. I went and met my Family Physician. For Unexplained Fevers, they have an established protocol. They first test check for X and then for Y and so on until they arrive at a diagnosis. 

That's what happened in my case as well. We went down that checklist and finally zeroed in on the cause of the fever. The GP gave me the treatment for it and I was fine in a few days.

So, while dialysis patients rely on nephrologists for everything, it might be a good idea to stay in touch with their GP for such problems.

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