Healthcare Professionals: Which Treat Hep C?
Editors note: Always consult your medical team for treatment advice or if you have any questions about your treatment plan.
There are so many different healthcare professionals within the healthcare space. Once you receive a hep C diagnosis, and you’ve decided to seek treatment, the next step is to access a healthcare professional to manage your care.
What are the common doctors that treat hep C?
Knowing who should be prescribing and following up during your treatment course can be confusing. Here are the most common healthcare professionals that treat hep C.
Gastroenterologists are one of the primary specialists that treat hep C. Gastroenterologists are specialists, meaning that they have extensive training in their field.
Gastroenterologists are familiar with all aspects of the digestive system, not just the liver. They also treat conditions such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
They also perform colonoscopies to detect colon polyps that may be cancerous. Because they are specialists, they typically require a referral from your primary care physician.
Like a gastroenterologist, a hepatologist is also a specialist. However, hepatologists are even more specialized in concentrating on the liver and associated organs.
Nurse practitioners are becoming increasingly more involved in the treatment of hep c, especially with the emergence of direct-acting antivirals. There are many more nurse practitioners than there are specialists, making them optimal to treat hep c in remote areas.
In the western provinces in Canada, nurse practitioners are doing significant work in rural areas to help diagnose and treat hep C. One study assessed the effectiveness of nurse practitioners' management of hep c compared to specialists and found that nurse practitioners’ patients might achieve the same rate of hep C cure compared to the specialists.1
Primary care doctors
Primary care physicians are also becoming increasingly more involved in managing hep c. Some of these doctors have additional certifications and courses to increase their subject knowledge.
The advantage of a primary care doctor in managing hep c is that they already have a relationship with their patients and know their patient's complete health history.
How do I choose who will treat me?
With the direct-acting antivirals, it is easier to get treated by various healthcare professionals and achieve the same cure rate. Ultimately, who treats you for hep c will depend on many factors that may be outside your control, such as:
- Location - access to a specialist may be limited where you live, but nurse practitioners or primary care physicians might be available.
- Insurance - some insurance companies restrict who can prescribe antivirals, limiting prescribing only to specialists.
- Other health conditions the severity of your condition. If you have cirrhosis, for example, you are more likely to be referred to a specialist. Your other health conditions are also factored in. If you have irritable bowel syndrome and already see a gastroenterologist, you will typically be treated by that same specialist for hep C.
Which healthcare professional treated/ is currently treating your hep C? Share your experiences below.
Do you experience long-term side effects from hep C treatment?