COVID-19 FAQ #13: Is it safe for myeloma patients to resume in-person doctors' visits?
Continuing his COVID-19 FAQ series, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie discusses when myeloma patients should return to the clinic and if virtual doctors' visits are still considered to be safer.
Carefully discuss with your doctor if it is possible to continue virtual visits. Consult with your medical team and develop an ongoing plan for testing and treatment.
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Videos in the COVID-19 Series
- FAQ #1: How can myeloma pts reduce the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus?
- FAQ #2: What do myeloma patients need to know about COVID-19?
- FAQ #3: Do myeloma patients need to adjust their treatment?
- FAQ #4: What are some of the treatment modifications myeloma patients should consider?
- FAQ #5: What are the risk factors that could lead myeloma patients to develop serious consequences from the COVID-19 infection?
- FAQ #6: What precautions should myeloma patients take when getting their groceries?
- FAQ #7: Is it safe for myeloma patients to take walks?
- FAQ #8: Is physical distancing still recommended for myeloma patients?
- FAQ #9: Can myeloma patients avoid contracting the COVID-19 infection?
- FAQ #10: Should Myeloma patients undergo routine COVID-19 antibody testing?
- FAQ #11: Are MGUS and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) patients considered to be at higher risk for severe consequences from a COVID-19 infection?
- FAQ #12: If a myeloma patient takes Revlimid® (lenalidomide) as maintenance treatment, should this patient continue with that treatment during the pandemic?
- FAQ #13: Is it safe for myeloma patients to resume in-person doctors' visits?
This “Ask Dr. Durie” is a response to a very common question in this time of the COVID-19 crisis. Many myeloma patients are asking, “is it okay, is it safe for me to go back to my myeloma clinic for my regular appointments?” Obviously, a very important question.
And, unfortunately, the answer is maybe yes, maybe no. Because, right now, if you happen to be in a high-risk area, for example, New York City, then there are still significant risks going out and about and traveling, and perhaps coming in contact with someone who could put you at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
And so, it is extremely important to assess the situation in your own local city or town. As you’re thinking about the pros and cons of going back to the myeloma clinic, it’s important to ask a few questions. So, the first one would be, is it necessary for me to have a COVID-19 test before I go back to the clinic? And, in a number of places, for example, New York, it is necessary, and some clinics are actually requiring that you have two negative tests done for the COVID-19 infection before you actually go back into the clinic.
And so, this raises the point of, well, maybe I can continue or start to just have my follow up using telemedicine without going back into the clinic. And, I recommend this discussion as a first step for all patients because increasingly, this can be helpful to reduce the number of visits, and also, is very, very, reasonable for ongoing care for patients who remain stable.
Another question to ask as you’re talking to the doctor or to the clinic staff is, do you have full protective equipment ready? Will the staff be wearing masks? What is going to be the set-up when I come back into the clinic? And, will I myself have to be wearing a mask? What will be the procedures is you were to go back into the clinic?
Obviously, for some patients, especially if a patient is newly diagnosed or if the disease has relapsed, and if it is urgent to get some treatment, it is very, very, important to sort out those details so that you can get back into the clinic and get back into a full treatment program as quickly as possible, and as completely as possible. So, these are very, very, important points.
And so, the BOTTOM LINE for this is to please think about this carefully, review the option for a telemedicine approach, where you can see and talk to your doctor on video, or at least, talk to the staff or your doctor on the phone, but, review carefully what is going to be the ongoing plan for both testing, getting your lab tests and treatment with your doctor, so that you have a clear ongoing plans.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.