Being prepared when you go with your child to the doctor is important. The following tips can help you get the most out of your visits with medical providers.
Before the Appointment:
- Be prepared: Be ready to talk about your child’s condition with facts or specific examples of your concerns. Ideally, have these concerns written down so you don’t miss anything. Your time and the doctor’s time are valuable. If you go to the medical visit prepared, it will be more helpful and productive.
- Keep a journal: Write down your observations of behaviors, illness, temperatures, eating habits or anything else that your child’s provider may need to know.
- Keep medical records: You have the right to copies of your child’s medical records. Keep your own records of tests, procedures, and their results. If you are able, sign up for MyChart or other online systems with your clinic.
- Write out questions: Do not hesitate to ask questions and do not be embarrassed to ask for clarification when you don’t understand something the doctor says.
- Prepare your child: Tell your child what to expect, who you will be seeing and why, and what tests may be done. Take comfort items along on the appointment.
During the Appointment
- Do your part: Work at understanding – listen and take notes. You cannot control how well another person will listen, but you can make sure you are doing your part.
- Gain an understanding: Ask the provider to explain the care or treatment plan and put it in writing. Repeat the care plan back to the doctor as you understand it.
- Set time limits: In your written plans, state when you understand something is to be done and follow up on it. Set up a specific time to connect with the doctor to receive test results or discuss what a specialist has suggested.
Tip for Families: Follow your instincts! If you are not comfortable with the diagnosis or treatment plan, let the doctor know. You know your child best, so its important to communicate with the provider if something does not seem right.
After the Appointment
- Have confidence: Ask for a second opinion if you feel it is needed.
- Follow your instincts: If you are uncertain or uncomfortable about a diagnosis or treatment, follow your instincts and contact the provider to discuss your concerns.
- If things don’t go well, consider changing providers! If, after several appointments, you do not feel that your concerns are being addressed, that the doctor is not listening to you and/or your child or that there are on-going problems with your doctor helping to coordinate your child’s care, you may want to consider finding a new doctor.
For more information see the Family Voices fact sheet titled, “Finding the Right Doctor for Your Child with Special Health Care Needs.”