At this time, we will be extending the services provided by our office to include chemotherapy. The information that follows is designed to help you become familiar with our office policies and routines concerning chemotherapy. If you have unanswered questions or need additional information or clarification, please ask your physician or nurse. Good communication, as always, remains a vital part of any relationship.
Chemotherapy may be given either in the office or in the hospital. In general, the office setting is preferable. Each set of drugs has different reasons for their use and different potential problems. We do have handouts available for many of the drugs that you may be getting, either alone or in combination. We ask you to request the handouts from our staff and read them as frequently as it seems appropriate.
When you are getting chemotherapy, be sure you are very clear on the appointments that you have. Some will be for chemotherapy only; some will involve a follow-up appointment with a nurse in order to get a blood test and evaluation; some of the appointments will be with the physician only. If there is time, our nurses can make you a calendar with approximate treatment dates. Since the side effects of each set of drugs are different, make sure you know the names of the drugs you are taking, as well as other medicines you may be prescribed, enabling you to be as informed as possible.
Anti-nausea medicines are given along with chemotherapy. The exact type depends on the specific chemotherapy regimen. In some cases you will be prescribed an oral anti-nausea medicine and asked to bring it to the office on the day of treatment. Bruising easily or bleeding from the nose, gums or other sites needs to be reported to us promptly. Fever, especially in the 7 to 14 days after chemotherapy, burning with urination or other potential symptoms of infection, also needs to be reported right away.
In a similar way, it may be important for you to know about the possibility of diarrhea, mouth sores, and other side effects. The nurses and physicians will help teach you what to look out for in order to minimize any discomfort you may feel.
If you are getting radiation therapy, we may want to see you more often in the office to get complete blood counts. It is helpful to let us know what your schedule is so that we may minimize additional trips to the medical center for you.
Telephone calls: 415-923-3012
We encourage you to call our office if you have any questions or concerns regarding medical problems or your treatment. The oncology nurses are available during business hours; you may also leave a voice mail message for them in the event that they are with patients when you call. The office staff may be able to answer appointment related questions. If you require direct communication with your physician, your message will be given to him/her and the call will be returned as quickly as possible.
Evenings and weekends
Our physicians are available by phone 24 hours a day to give you medical care and advice, as well as to meet your emergency needs. Evenings and weekends are for emergencies only; routine questions should be asked during regular office hours. For emergencies, go to your nearest emergency room. For non-emergent concerns at night or over the weekend, please call 415-923-3012 and our answering service will connect you to the physician on call.
Prescriptions and refills
Prescription needs and refills are best taken care of during an office visit. However, if the need arises, you may call during weekday business hours. We cannot renew narcotics on weekends; a special prescription form is required and pharmacies cannot accept those prescriptions over the phone. It is wise to plan ahead for your medication needs.
We make every effort to keep down the cost of your medical care. We therefore request that co-payments be made at the time of your visit. Our office will submit insurance forms for outpatient and inpatient services provided by our physicians. Please keep us informed of any insurance changes. You are responsible for following up on delayed insurance payments. You will be sent a monthly statement noting any balance that is your responsibility. Questions that may arise regarding your insurance may be addressed to our insurance personnel. The direct line is 415-923-6564, and you may leave a message if staff is not available when you call.
Please remember that some insurance companies pay a percentage of the charge, and others pay fixed allowances. Our fees are based on the type of service rendered, and may not necessarily agree with the basis used by your insurance company. Regarding chemotherapy, please remember that we have prepaid for all drugs given in our office. Since many of the insurance companies do not pay for all of the chemotherapy costs, and most do not pay in a timely fashion, please be prepared to pay your share of the cost as soon as you receive our bill, which is after your insurance company has paid. If there are any extenuating circumstances, please speak with our office manager.
A final word...
Please remember that you are a participant in your health care. An open exchange of information between you and our staff is extremely important. Please do not hesitate to ask questions or to offer constructive criticism. We are here as a team to serve your health care needs.