Am I getting the best care for my Crohn’s or Colitis?

Am I getting the best care for my Crohn’s or Colitis?

Whether you are a newly diagnosed patient looking for treatment options for IBD, or a longstanding patient wondering if there is a better option, there’s many things to consider when talking to your Gastroenterologist. It’s also important to have a Gastroenterologist with a special interest in IBD.

The management of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is complex and ever-changing. Both you and your Gastroenterologist should be informed on the latest developments in care.

What should I ask my Gastroenterologist?

Have you had any further training in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or worked as a Gastroenterologist within public IBD Service?

All gastroenterologists are trained to look after patients with Crohn’s and Colitis. However, some undergo further training that better equips them to manage this difficult disease.

Should I be seeing a dietician for my IBD?         

It is critical for patients with IBD to see a dietitian, as they can help with nutrition as well as new and evolving dietary therapies. If you haven’t been referred, or your Gastroenterologist feels it is not necessary, it might suggest they are not aware of the latest development in diet and the management of IBD, especially Crohn’s disease.

Should I be seeing a psychologist for my IBD?

Your Gastroenterologist should understand where you are at with your mental health and ask how your disease is affecting you. If they don’t think it’s important, or underplay the significance of the mind-gut connection, then they may not be aware of the significance of mental health in IBD.

Do you attend regular inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team meetings (IBD MDT)?

Multi-disciplinary team meetings (MDT) are when gastroenterologists, surgeons, dieticians, and psychologists meet regularly to discuss cases. It enables different ideas to be presented and helps in decision making. In a difficult disease such as IBD, many heads are better than one!

Crohn’s and Colitis Australia recommended that all patients with IBD attend a service that has an IBD MDT. IBD SA is the only private practice in South Australia, and one of few nationally, that holds its own MDT meetings. Traditionally, this service was only offered in a public setting.

Do you have a nurse with a special interest in inflammatory bowel disease working with you?

IBD nurses are crucial to ensure that the complex care that is required for Crohn’s and Colitis runs well. It is a recommendation from Crohn’s and Colitis Australia that all patients with IBD have access to an IBD Nurse.

Are you involved in IBD research, or connected to a service that is?

Research is vital if we are to improve care in IBD, and gastroenterologists with an active interest in research are more likely to be up to date with their treatments.  If your gastroenterologist is involved in research they can often refer you for trials of new medications/treatments that might be helpful with your care.

What should I do if I have a flare?

Your gastroenterologist should have a plan in place for managing flares. They should also have a way to contact them or their team for prompt assistance in the case of a flare.

Here at IBD SA, we offer all of the above. You’ll need a referral from your GP, or a treating specialist, to see one of the gastroenterologists. Then you can make an appointment to discuss your IBD.

 

Contributed by Associate Professor Peter Bampton