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Epilepsy Blog Relay: What doctor should I see if I had a seizure?

The health system is hard enough to navigate. But when you add to that the after effects of a seizure and the possibility that you might have epilepsy, it can be pretty daunting. I’ve put together some tips that might help.

This story is part of the Epilepsy Blog Relay™.

I had a seizure, what doctor should I see?

When your primary care doctor or emergency room doctor determines that a seizure has occurred, you may be referred to a neurologist. Neurologists are specialists who treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles. It’s possible your doctor may decide to take a wait and see approach or may want to do further testing to determine if the seizure is in fact caused by epilepsy.

Whenever epilepsy is a concern whether it is a primary diagnosis or a secondary diagnosis, it is appropriate to involve an epileptologist. Epileptologists are neurologists that specialize in epilepsy, but not always locally available.

 

How do I find a good neurologist?

There are several steps to take to find a great neurologist (or epileptologist):

  • Find out whether or not you need a referral from your primary care provider. If you do, keep this in mind while searching for your new doctor.
  • When looking at neurologists, or epileptologists, it’s important to remember that neurologists tend to sub-specialize in a particular area of the brain, or disease state, to properly focus their patient base or research. Take a look at their “Area of Focus”
  • Figure out what you want out of this new doctor. It can be helpful to make a list, physical or mental. Compiling your  “must have” qualities is essential before moving on to the next step.
    • Do you prefer if the person is a man or a woman?
    • Young or old
    • Academic researcher or private practice
    • Would you like the head of a department or a long time clinician?
    • Someone who tells you the hard truths or makes you comfortable?
  • Check out the Top Doctors in your area. This is a good starting place to learn who has a long track record of success in the area. This is not super reliable as health systems will pay to get their docs on this list but it’s not a terrible place to start.
  • Make sure to determine which neurologist is in your health insurance network.
  • If you don’t have health insurance, then find out what options are available to you.
  • If you do have health insurance, go to the insurance company’s website. Most will have a “Find a Doctor” section. Typing in the name of the doctor you want to see will quickly show you whether the doctor is in the network or not.
  • Call and make an appointment! The longer you wait the harder it will be to get an appointment.
  • After you make the appointment you may have to go back to your primary care provider for a referral. Be sure to ask for a referral for multiple visits to save yourself the hassle of having to get a new referral each time.

How do I fire my doctor?

For future reference, there may (and probably will) be a time when you need to cut ties with your current doctor. This may seem as daunting as a task as finding the doctor, but don’t worry. To know if it is time to find a new doctor you need to:

  • listen to your instincts.
  • Make sure your doctor is meeting your needs — not his/her needs

When firing your doctor, don’t play games, simply tell them that you “will be looking for another doctor and that his staff can expect a call from requesting records.”

Or if the doctor is part of a group you don’t even need to have the conversation, just ask the administration team to assign you to someone else.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s story in the Epilepsy Blog Relay™.

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