20th Apr 2016

What to expect from the first appointment with your specialist

Dr Andrew Ustianowski, Consultant in Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine, North Manchester General Hospital

Some people worry about their first appointment with their specialist. This worry can come from not knowing what to expect from this discussion, a dislike of being in hospitals or even a fear of being judged. Whatever the reason, and these will vary considerably from one person to another, I want to reassure you that I see this meeting as the beginning of a partnership and an opportunity for you to ask questions to become informed.

Getting to know your story

My goal at the first appointment is to get to know you. While some of your medical history may be included in your referral letter, I like to hear it from you. The types of things I will be looking to understand include, but are not limited to, confirming you have hepatitis C, the state of your health, what tests you’ve had done, what tests you still need and what treatment you may have taken. It is also helps for me to know what might have led to you getting hepatitis C, your lifestyle and other things which may be affecting your liver or health. While you may feel this is prying, each piece of information that you share ensures I have a complete picture that will help me to advise the best path forward and treatment that is right for you.

Common misconceptions

A common misconception that many people hold is that they will get treated at the first appointment. I will discuss treatment options with you, as this is an important part of any care plan, however often more tests will be needed to help me confirm the best way of managing your condition, selecting appropriate treatment and agreeing a suitable time for this.

Treatment and hep C tests have changed

For some people the potential for additional tests can cause worry. It is important to note that as treatments for hepatitis C has improved over the years, offering people a better chance of being cured, so have the services and tests that help us investigate and manage hepatitis C. Some people may have first seen a specialist a number of years ago when more intrusive procedures like liver biopsies were needed. These days we use scans and imaging machines that are completely painless to understand how your liver has been affected by hepatitis C.

Preparing for your appointment

These tips may help you to get the most out of your discussion with your specialist.

  • Spend some time thinking about your appointment before you arrive
  • Write down any questions or worries about hepatitis C you have in advance. It is easy to forget what you were meaning to ask when you are being presented with a lot of information
  • Make sure you know what other medicines you are taking and bring the names of them with you
  • Note down any allergies you may have so you can inform your doctor

My role as a doctor is to help you make the best choice for your health. I want to empower you by providing advice and information on your options, so that you can make a decision about how you want to manage your condition, which is right for you.