Talking To your doctor
Following your relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS) diagnosis, it’s very important to choose a therapy that helps you reach your RMS treatment goals. So, take a moment to think about what’s important to you, and be sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Before deciding on an RMS treatment, have you and your doctor talked about specific goals? Here are some things to consider when thinking about a treatment:
- Does the treatment have a well-established safety profile?
- Did the treatment reduce the rate of flare-ups (also known as relapses) in clinical trials?
- Has the treatment been shown to slow disability progression?
- Was the treatment proven to reduce the number of new or enlarging brain lesions* on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan?†‡
The exact correlation between MRI findings and the current or future clinical status of patients, including disability progression, is unknown.
- Has the treatment been proven to work better than another MS therapy in a head-to-head clinical study?
- What are the risks and benefits of the treatment you’re considering?
- Does the treatment offer product features designed for flexibility?
- Will there be support for me when I take the treatment?
- Is there a reason that this treatment is not appropriate for me?
* Both T2 new or enlarging lesions and gadolinium (Gd)-enhancing T1 lesions. Gadolinium is an imaging agent used to highlight new or enlarging lesions.
† Refers to new lesions and total lesion burden or area as defined in the AAN and MS Council guidelines.
‡ Lesions detected with both T1-Gd+ and PD/T2-weighted MRI.
“ The average appointment with a neurologist lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, and the time goes by quickly. If you enter the doctor’s office with a specific agenda in mind, then you’ll have a better chance of leaving the office with a sense of accomplishment. ”
RN, MSCN MS LifeLines Nurse
Have you ever left a doctor appointment and realized that you forgot to discuss questions or thoughts you might have had? Are you overwhelmed by some of the language that your healthcare provider uses to discuss your test results or your multiple sclerosis?
Here are some ideas to help make conversations about MS with your healthcare provider more productive:
- Make a list of your questions ahead of time.
Prioritize the top 3 questions you'd like to ask during your appointment, and remember to take notes.
- Bring a friend or care partner with you.
It can help to have another person listen to your healthcare provider and take notes to help you remember the details later.
- Ask your healthcare provider to explain anything you don't understand.
Don't be afraid to ask questions if anything is unclear.
- Try not to downplay your symptoms or feelings.
Remember, the people on your healthcare team are experts in caring for people living with RMS—try to tell them exactly how you are doing.
- Ask about follow-up.
Is it best to get in touch by phone or email, or should you plan another visit?
- Keep all of your medical records in one place.
Store your appointment notes, invoices, test results, treatment journal, etc., in a binder or box so that you can refer to them quickly and easily.
Harold Moses, MD, shares what he asks patients who are newly diagnosed with RMS. He gives tips on what to do if you can’t remember the details of symptoms, as well as questions to ask your doctor.
Watch “What a Doctor Asks His New Patients”
Dr. Moses is a paid consultant of EMD Serono, Inc.