I have observed that in many postings on this site when answering questions raised by people newly diagnosed with liver disease it is advocated that the person raising the question must make sure they see a Hepatologist and not a Gastroenterologist and I am left wondering why this aspect seems to be so important? Is it a just because it makes you feel better inside?
Some people have no other choice but to be seen by a Gastroenterologist and it is sad to see them undermined as some inferior or make do option.
I was under the impression that a Hepatologist is in fact a Gastroenterologist but as the description implies he or she is one that specializes specifically on the liver. I am also under the a further impression,perhaps an incorrect one, that whoever is dealing with the matter the same protocol and guidelines etc are followed. To me it seems a Gastroenterologist ( not a Registrar) at say an NHS General hospital may see liver disease patients virtually every day and have just as much experience and expertise as a Hepatologist even though he or she is not described as such? Liver disease does of course also extend beyond the actual liver itself to affect other organs in the gastroenterinal system as well as the heart and lungs and even the kidneys and urinary tract etc
Personally I have always been seen by the same senior Gastroenterologist from the team at my local General Hospital (albeit a very large Hospital) and from the number of people he sees at his Clinics and the liver related procedures that he appears to organizes etc I am confident he is extremely experienced and very capable of advising me properly as well as guiding me to fight the disease. I have occasionally checked things he has advised and prescribed against the Protocol and Guidelines and he has always been spot on.
Hence my reason to question why for many people it seems to be important to see a Hepatologist rather than a Gastroenterologist particularly when so many patients have no other realistic choice ?