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Office email and especially if you are flaring

December 14, 2019

Email policy and especially IBD flares 

Email policy (approved by Dr Lalor) :

Lately we have had an increasing number of patients contacting us by email with important medical information.  This can include symptoms, new or pre-existing conditions, reactions to medications or details about disease flare.

Our email system is not secure, and we do not have the capacity to process these emails.  The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Canadian Medical Protective Association strongly recommend against email with patients, unless a variety of safeguards are in place.  For that reason, these emails will be discarded, and not read.

We continue to use email for appointment scheduling and rescheduling.

Dr Lalor asks many patients, and continues to do so, to call us and leave a message to update us about how things are going. This message needs to be by telephone, and if it is brief, it can be voicemail, but if it is at all detailed, you will need to speak to a member of the office staff.

1) In most cases, we need to know just one thing: better, worse, or the same.  We will respond appropriately, although often this may involve a recommendation for you to go to the primary care practitioner or to the ER department.

2 If you are calling to report a flare, especially in IBD, you need to have read the "flare documents", on this website, under health information, under inflammatory bowel disease.  The definition of a flare is provided there.

3 The "flare documents" describe clearly that you will need to see a  PCP ie a primary care practitioner (nurse practitioner or family doctor), or go to a walk-in clinic or an emergency department, to be assessed, to provide blood work and if there is diarrhea, a stool sample (for C. difficile), before we can do anything.

4) If you have been advised by a PCP to call our office, and we have not received the blood work or the stool culture, or any direct communication from the PCP, we will be unable to help you.  Dr. Lalor or one of his gastroenterology colleagues is available, 24 hours a day, to any PCP, and especially to the emergency room physicians at RVH, and other hospitals in Ontario.  An on-call gastroenterologist is happy to advise, but all patients with an IBD flare need medical assessment, the blood test, and the stool test, otherwise there is a serious risk of deterioration and potentially hospitalization and/or surgery.

We hope this helps you understand the office process and get you the appropriate advice and treatment more quickly.


Dr Lalor and office staff.