Who is a gastroenterologist?

A gastroenterologist is a specialist physician who specialises in diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system. This involves;

  • the digestive tract, including the oesophagus, stomach, small bowel, colon and rectum
  • organs related to the digestive tract: the liver, pancreas and gallbladder.

What are the common complaints evaluated by a gastroenterologist?

Gastroenterologists are specialists who evaluate and treat people with symptoms of;

  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding from the bowel
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Swallowing troubles
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice
  • Abnormal liver function tests (blood test)

What are some of the diseases gastroenterologists treat?

Patients who see gastroenterologists may be diagnosed with;

  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and other functional bowel disorders
  • Coeliac disease
  • Gastrointestinal cancers including oesophageal, gastric or colonic cancer
  • Pre-cancerous changes such as Barrett’s oesophagus, gastric intestinal metaplasia and colonic polyps
  • Disorders of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder

What should I bring with me to my first appointment?

  • A referral from your General Practitioner or family doctor
  • Your Medicare card, DVA card, or Pension card and details of your private health insurance, if available.
  • Results of any previous tests relating to your complaint. This may include x-rays and other scans, blood test results or details of other doctors whom you have seen about this condition.
  • A list of all medications you are currently taking or any other medications you have taken previously for your complaint.
  • A list of any any drug allergies and what symptoms you experienced while taking the medication.

What should I bring with me to subsequent appointments?

  • A list of all medications you are currently taking.
  • A referral from you General Practitioner (GP) or family doctor, if your previous one has expired. Our secretaries will let you know if this is required at the time you make your appointment.
  • Results from previous investigations undertaken regarding your complaint.

What should I expect during first visit?

During your first appointment with the gastroenterologist will ask you details of your symptoms and your medical history will be evaluated. Usually, a physical examination relevant to your complaint will be undertaken. Further appropriate tests or procedures will then be arranged for you. The gastroenterologist will explain what is involved with the tests or procedures and the main risks and benefits of having them done. Once the further tests have been completed, your gastroenterologist will see you again to discuss your results with you, explain the diagnosis and advise and monitor any necessary treatments.

How is my GP involved in my care?

In the first instance, you should talk to your own family doctor about any symptoms. They can advise you on whether specialist care is appropriate and who the best specialist is for your needs. They can also initiate diagnostic tests or treatments prior to you seeing the specialist. Your family doctor can help the specialist to care for you better by providing relevant information about your past and present health. Communicating with the specialist will also enable your family doctor to care for you better during and after your specialist treatment.

Are my medical records kept private and confidential?

Your medical file is handled with the utmost respect for your privacy. We will discuss details of your medical situation, as necessary, with your referring doctor but otherwise will not ordinarily release details from your medical file without your prior consent. As a condition of employment, our staff are bound by strict confidentiality requirements.

What are the costs involved?

Consultations with your gastroenterologist will usually be only partially covered by Medicare and private health insurance does not contribute to appointment costs. You can speak to the practice office staff for more details. We try to minimise the out-of-pocket costs that patients have for endoscopic procedures.

  • If you have health insurance, your gastroenterologist’s account will be covered by Medicare and your health fund, without out of pocket expenses (“no gap” billing). However there may be an excess payment required by your health fund, depending on the level of cover you have chosen. You should discuss this with the hospital prior to your procedure being performed. There are sometimes out of pocket expenses for the Anaesthetist and this can be discussed with them before the procedure.
  • If you do not have insurance, you can pay for procedures to be done privately and prices are available from the practice office staff. Alternatively, we can often arrange for procedures to be performed at Concord or Ryde Public Hospitals where there should be no out of pocket expenses.  Note that there are longer waiting time to have a procedure done in the public system and often the procedure is done without an Anaesthetist, so you will not be as heavily sedated as in the Private Hospitals.

How do I pay for my appointment?

We request that you settle your bill at the time of your consultation. We have facilities for you to pay by EFTPOS or credit card and we also accept cash and cheque. If you have registered with Medicare, we can assist by forwarding receipt of your payment to Medicare and if you are covered, you will then be reimbursed by them, directly into your bank account.

If you need to change or cancel an appointment

Please telephone the office during business hours on 9874 1251 if you need to cancel or change your appointment time. Please give as much notice as possible so that we can offer your appointment to patients on our waiting list.

Do our doctor’s often run late?

We recognise that your time is valuable, and we make every effort to adhere to the arranged appointment time. Occasionally emergencies come up or patients require a little more time, and these cause scheduling delays beyond our control. We apologise if we keep you waiting.