As you know I am a nephrologist – do you know what that means and why and when you would see a physician like me rather than your family doctor or primary care doctor?
A nephrologist is a doctor who has studied for a several more years to gain specialized knowledge in how to diagnose and treat diseases of the kidney. The word nephrologist comes from the Greek word, “nephros” which means kidneys and “ologist” that means one who studies. Remember from Kidney 101 the kidney is made up of nephrons!
Nephrologists may specialize in specific areas of kidney disease, such as kidney disease and hypertension, kidney disease and diabetes, transplantation, pediatric nephrology and more.
So, when do you see a nephrologist and when do you see your primary care physician? You should be seeing you primary care physician on a regular basis for your annual physicals and other health issues you may encounter. Your primary care doctor may notice a change in your lab results or your blood pressure and may request further tests, especially if you are at higher risk for kidney disease (e.g. if you have a family history of kidney disease). If your GFR is 30 or below your physician will likely refer you to a nephrologist for further evaluation and to develop a treatment plan.
The nephrologist will likely evaluate your results and determine what stage of kidney disease you are at and in partnership with your primary care doctor and you, develop a treatment plan. How often you see the nephrologist will be related to the severity or stage of your kidney disease.
Please ask both your primary care doctor and your nephrologist to explain how they will work together to help manage your kidney disease. You are part of your own medical team so it is important that you understand what role each member of the team plays and how best you can interact with them.
Yours in good health