The role of an infectious disease specialist is to review a patient's medical data, including records, X-rays and laboratory reports. They may perform a physical examination, depending on the type of problem.
Laboratory studies are often necessary and may include blood studies and cultures of wounds or body fluids. They may order blood serum studies for antibodies indicating the presence of unusual or uncommon diseases. These studies may help explain the results of studies that a general internist may already have done.
Not everyone who has an infectious disease needs an infectious disease specialist. Your general internist or Primary Care Physician can take care of most infections, but sometimes specialized expertise is needed to either diagnose or manage specific infectious diseases.
When a fever raises the suspicion that you may have an infection, when an infection is potentially serious, or when problems occur with treatment, it may be necessary to consult an infectious diseases specialist. ID specialists can provide special insight into tests that will be helpful in diagnosing and understanding the infection and preventing recurrent infections. They can often help determine what treatment you need, if any, and whether you should receive antibiotics. You may not require any treatment, but if you do, they may confer with your personal physician about which diagnostic testing and forms of treatment are best suited to your needs.
If you are hospitalized for an infection or acquire an infection while hospitalized, ID specialists will follow and help direct your hospital care. In some cases, they may continue to see you after you go home from the hospital.
It is our recommendation that you continue seeking care and treatment from your Primary Care Physician who addresses your overall healthcare needs. Once referred to an Infectious Disease Specialist, you may be asked to return to the ID specialist for one or multiple follow-up visit to review test results, monitor your treatment and to be sure that your infection has been eliminated. ID specialists may wish to follow up with you until we feel confident that the infection will not recur.