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Can a family member request a physician consult for a loved one?

The short answer is yes.  If you have a loved one in the hospital whose treatment is complex and the medical team is (perhaps) "stumped," it is always within reason to speak with the attending physician and ask if a consult can be obtained.  "Two heads are better than one," as they say.  It's likely that the team has already considered a consult, but it can't hurt to ask.

Typical consults include a renal (kidney) consult if the patient's urine output or bloodwork is abnormal; a hematology (blood) consult if there is a bleeding disorder or clotting problem; a cardiology (heart) consult if the patients has developed an unusual heart rhythm or has had a heart attack; a pulmonology (lung) consult if the lungs are involved; and a gastrointestinal (GI) consult is ordered if the bowels or digestive system is involved.

There are many other consulting physicians within an acute care hospital who can be sought out for assistance on difficult cases. And while the old adage 'too many cooks in the kitchen' means that there may be alot of opinions rendered, the attending physician can choose to accept or not to accept the consulting physician's suggestions.

Having someone in a critical care area or in the hospital for a long time is stressful and worrisome.  Take proactive steps to speak with the attending physician in charge of your loved one's care and ask her/him "what's the game plan?"  Having established a good communication plan is a critical piece of a positive experience.  And don't be afraid or intimidated to talk with the attending about the value of having a consult.  Push the envelope. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.