Dr. Cristina Gasparetto provides advice for patients seeking a second opinion following a myeloma diagnosis. Dr. Gasparetto outlines the benefits of a second opinion and shares how she collaborates with a patient’s local doctor from afar.
Dr. Cristina Gasparetto is Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center and Director of the Multiple Myeloma Program at Duke Cancer Institute. More about this expert here.
If patients are concerned about hurting a doctor’s feelings, I guess, with a second opinion, I think that they have to understand this is their life, and we physicians, we understand the complexity of the disease, and that it’s necessary to seek a second opinion.
And we can guide their treatment, sometimes in a different way. And I don’t think patients need to receive direct treatment in the major hospital, where they have their expert. I think it is a team effort, and I do have that collaboration with my fellow physicians over time, so I don’t directly treat the patients, here at Duke, and this is sadly. But I maintain a communications with their physician, so we can work together, and I can provide guidance, recommendations. So it’s very important, and I think a lot of the community physicians feel comfortable having that type of collaboration on this, so it’s a team effort.
And don’t be afraid to relay the expectations to the physicians. We need to know. We need to know how important a certain aspects of their life, quality of life. There are patients who want to continue to work, and bringing them twice a week in our clinic is not really helpful. Put them through a very aggressive chemotherapy regime may not be ideal for certain patients that want to stay home or be treated by their local physicians.
That’s another thing, my collaboration with the community physician is very important, because, if a patient lives 3 hours from me, I don’t expect the patient to come to my clinic every week to receive the same treatment that can be delivered locally, five minutes from their house. And that’s the reason why it’s important to maintain collaboration, a team effort between the expert and the community physician, so the treatment can be delivered when it’s more convenient.
I never exclude the physician, the referral physician, the referring physician. So, because ultimately, we want the best for the patient, and at the end of the day, they are actually, the physician start to feel more comfortable, like I do have a lot of referring physicians calling me continuously, updating me on a patient’s status, so we can work together. We can change treatment, adjusting the dosage, and so, it’s truly a collaboration.