Kathryn Jean Lucas, MD
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Endocrinology?
A. Diabetes & Endocrinology Consultants, PC is a medical practice specializing exclusively in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the endocrine system. Endocrinology is the subspecialty of Internal Medicine focusing on hormonal and glandular problems such as: the pancreas, reproductive system, thyroid disease, diabetes and its complications, pituitary diseases, osteoporosis, calcium metabolism, adrenal gland diseases, growth disorders and disorders of sexual development.
Q. What is DEC?
A. Diabetes & Endocrinology Consultants, PC is a really long name that describes who we are and what we do; but in the interest of time we just call it DEC.
Q. Are DEC doctors specially trained?
A. YES. After 4 years of medical school they train for 3 or more years to become board certified in internal medicine. They then train for 3 or more years and complete a multi-year fellowship in endocrinology before becoming board certified in endocrinology.
Q. Who can see a DEC doctor?
A. Because we are specialists and will only be treating your endocrine condition, it is important we coordinate your medical care with your primary care physician (PCP) sometimes called your family doctor. You must be referred to DEC by your PCP.
Q. Why is it best to have my lab work done BEFORE my appointment?
A. Your doctor may require lab tests be performed to better treat your medical condition. If you have these tests performed about a week before your appointment with DEC, your doctor will have the results available and be able to review and explain the results and treatment with you at your office visit. If you have the lab tests performed at your office visit, one of our nurses will call you or mail the results and your doctor’s instructions. However, there will be no opportunity to ask the doctor questions directly at that time.
Q. Does DEC see “walk-in” patients?
A. YES and NO. We do not leave empty spaces in the doctor’s schedule; so there is almost no chance you can see a DEC doctor without an appointment. Many questions can be answered by our nurses. It is possible you can see a DEC nurse as a “walk-in” without an appointment; it all depends on the day’s schedule. You will be charged for a nursing visit to meet with one of our nurses. Many times this charge is less than your specialist co-pay. Our front desk team can give you an idea of nurse visit costs.
Q. Are DEC nurses specially trained?
A. YES, most of our nurses specialize in endocrinology and have worked with Dr. Lucas for years. All DEC nurses attend a diabetes fellowship at ECU.
Q. Can I make an appointment to see a DEC nurse for education, training, or other questions?
A. YES. You can make an appointment to see a DEC nurse for training, education, or other questions that do not require a doctor. You will be charged for a nursing visit to meet with one of our nurses. Many times this charge is less than your specialist co-pay. Our front desk team can give you an idea of what a nurse visit costs.
Q. Does DEC charge for non-face-to-face contacts like phone calls or e-mails?
A. YES and NO. Generally non-face-to-face contacts with DEC are free. You will never be charged for non-medical communication or medical communication initiated by DEC. However, patient initiated communications with medical questions may generate a charge. Some medical offices bring you into their office for an office visit just to answer a simple question. We feel if your medical questions can safely be answered via electronic communications it is more respectful of your time and better for you. However, unless the medical question is very short it may generate a charge.
Q. Is it true DEC goes on vacation to exotic locations together? Why is that?
A. Our top priority is providing world class medical care to our community. The largest single factor in achieving that goal is our people. We must find, train, retain, and compensate the best people possible to be able to provide you with the best care possible. It is also critical we work together as a team. We have found office travel aids in top quality employee retention and also helps us to work together better as a team. Anyone who works as hard as these girls deserves a nice vacation too.
Q. Why does an automated attendant answer the phone when I call DEC?
A. We would love to have enough nurses available to answer every phone call in person. The reality is that we receive hundreds of phone calls every day and the calls are NOT evenly spaced throughout the day. We routinely receive over 30 calls just over lunch. (We eat lunch too) We have dedicated 1 and sometimes 2 nurses to returning phone calls. We make every effort to return phone calls in the order they are received. When you call, please speak clearly, leave your name, date of birth, and a short question. It is much easier for us to return your call if you leave 1 or 2 phone numbers where we can reach you. Yes, sometimes we cannot understand who called and the caller did not leave a phone number. Please do not leave a voice mail and send an e-mail too; that causes confusion for the nurses.
Q. What is clinical research and why does DEC conduct clinical research?
A. Every medication we have available currently had to go through multiple clinical trials to be proven safe and effective before the FDA makes them generally available. We are always looking for new medications to improve patients’ healthcare. As an endocrinologist, Dr. Lucas is always looking for new medications to help patients’ diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, osteoporosis, and prevent heart disease. We work with national pharmaceutical companies to do clinical studies. This provides our patients with the opportunity to try out a new medication and improve medical science. Clinical research volunteers are one of hundreds of thousands of Americans who help develop new medications every year.
Q. Can patients e-mail question to DEC?
A. Yes. We are happy to take questions via e-mail. You may also register for our patient portal at www.BeachDoctor.com. Please do not e-mail and also call with the same question. That usually results in confusion and will not get your call returned quicker.
Q. Does DEC charge to complete forms and write letters for patients?
A. Yes. Our providers will sign forms you complete free of charge. However, forms we complete and letters we write on your behalf incur a $20 charge. We may require up to 9 business days for a letter the doctor writes on your behalf. Please get “back to school” forms to us ASAP so we can return them before school starts.
Q. Does DEC collect insurance co-payments (co-pay) at the time of service?
A. Yes. Insurance co-payments are due at the time of your office visit. DEC policy is to collect co-pays at check-in. If you are unprepared to pay your co-pay we will reschedule your visit.
Q. Is it true some patients are discharged from DEC for missing 3 appointments?
A. Yes. It is very important for you to cancel your appointment if you will be unable to keep it. Please call DEC as soon as you know you will be unable to keep your scheduled appointment. If you should fail to show up for 3 appointments without canceling, you will be discharged from DEC.
Q. Is it true patients are charged a no-show fee for missing appointments?
A. Yes, and no one need ever incur this fee. If you call and cancel at least 24 hours before your appointment there is no charge. Our waiting list is long and we strive to allow as many patients to see our providers as possible. When a patient cancels we work hard to find a patient on the cancellation list who needs that appointment. When you no-show for an appointment you are depriving someone else the opportunity of medical care. The new patient (and patients not seen in over a year) no-show fee is $50. The regular “recheck” office visit no-show fee is $25
Q. Is it true when DEC collects no-show fees the money is donated to charity?
A. Yes. We do not want your no-show fee, we want you to keep your appointment or call ASAP to make the time available for another patient. No-show fees are donated to diabetes related charities.
Q. Is it true some patients are discharged for not paying their co-pay and/or bill?
A. Yes. In order to provide high quality healthcare we must charge for our services and you are expected to pay your co-pay and bill. We will work out a payment plan if necessary to help patients afford their medical care. Even $10 a month will keep you in good standing, however you must pay a minimal amount each month or you could be discharged from the practice.
Q. Who do I call if I need a prescription refilled?
A. In almost every case you should call your pharmacy first. They will electronically request your refill. You may still want to call your pharmacy to verify your prescription is ready before going to pick it up.
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