Transplant Team or Local Provider: Who Do I Call for Medical Advice?
Once you embark on the transplant journey, you will find yourself intricately connected to your transplant team. From pre-transplant visits to yearly follow-ups after transplant, you might feel like you see your transplant care team more than you see your extended family. At many transplant centers including programs at Mayo Clinic, after receiving your organ you continue your relationship with them for life. However, that lifelong relationship doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have other people on your team who can care for you when you don’t necessarily need your transplant team.
Having a local doctor who can care for your general health before and after transplant is typically required. Whether you choose a specialist or a family practitioner, your home provider can work with your transplant team to coordinate your care.
When you have a medical issue, who do you contact – your transplant team or your local provider? Here are some general tips regarding who to call when you have an issue or question about your medical situation. If your transplant center has given you information that differs from this list, you should follow their recommendations. In all cases if you have a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go to your local emergency room.
Immunosuppressive medications need to be taken consistently and correctly. If you miss a dose of your immunosuppressive medication, contact your transplant center team for instructions.
Transplant medications can be expensive. If you are unable to obtain your medications due to cost or pharmacy issues, be sure to contact your transplant care team.
Whether a new medication is prescribed by your local doctor or you obtain it over the counter, you should contact your transplant team prior to taking anything new. Some medications are safe to use with your transplant medications but some may not be safe. Your local provider should be able to manage all of your non-transplant medications, but if you have questions about a certain medication, contact your transplant pharmacist.
Symptoms of Illness
If you are feeling ill or having symptoms of illness, contact your local doctor. Common cold symptoms, minor aches/pains, minor injuries, and other common symptoms should be able to be addressed locally. Your local provider can collaborate with your transplant team to ensure that the course of action suggested is safe for your transplanted organ. After you visit the local provider, notifying your transplant team is important.
If you are diagnosed with any form of infection (urinary, bladder, pneumonia, etc.) or have been recently hospitalized please contact your transplant nurse coordinator. It is also important to report any changes made to your immunosuppressant medications by your local provider. Reporting any malignancies such as cancer to your transplant team is important as well.
In any emergency situation, you should call 911 or go to your local emergency room.
If you have changes in your life that might affect the care of your organ, you should let your transplant care team know. These might include a change in your insurance coverage, changes in your employment, recent hospitalizations, accidents, or diagnosis of a new disease or illness. To provide you with the best transplant care, your transplant team relies on a collaborative relationship with you as the patient and your primary provider.
Remember, if you have questions specific to your personal situation, it’s always best to contact the transplant team caring for you.
What have you done to help keep your doctors updated on changes to your condition?