Talking with your doctor about your child

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Parents with a sick child need open communication with the health-care team. Learn tips when talking with the doctor about your child.

Key points

  • It is important to develop a good relationship with your child's health-care team. They are there to support you and help you cope with your child's illness.
  • Make sure you prepare for your visits with the health-care team. Keep a diary of your child's symptoms, tests undergone, results of tests and other related information and write down any questions you have.

Your child's health-care team is there to support your family and help you cope with your child's illness. Remember, when talking to the doctor about your child:

  • No question is too dumb. If something does not make sense to you, ask the doctor or nurse to explain it again.
  • You know your child best. Trust your instincts about what your child needs.
  • Be persistent in your questions and your requests.

If you are finding that you have a poor rapport with your child's doctor or feel uncomfortable about the kind of care your child is receiving, discuss this openly with the doctor. If you are unable to reach agreement on how your child should be treated, then you can ask the doctor to refer your child either for a consultation, a second opinion or to another specialist.

Here are some tips on how to get the most when talking to your child's health-care team.

Getting ready for a visit with your child's health-care team

  • Write out questions and concerns so you will not forget things.
  • Write down any recent symptoms.
  • Keep self-monitoring records current.
  • Review what medications and dosages your child is currently taking.
  • Review the main points you want to cover.
  • If your child is older, talk to them about questions that they may want to have answered during the visit.
  • Keep a diary that records your child's symptoms, tests undergone, results of tests and other related information. This can be helpful in recalling information during a clinic visit or a trip to an emergency unit. You can use a notebook or an electronic record; find the organization system that works best for you.
  • Make a note of anything you need from the health-care team, such as a letter for your child's school or help finding community health services.

During the visit with your child's health-care team

  • Bring your diary of symptoms, tests, medications, dosages and any side effects.
  • Request time to ask questions.
  • Encourage your child to participate in the visit and ask their own questions if possible.
  • Write down the answers.
  • When answers seem detailed or complicated, it may be helpful to repeat answers back when talking to your child's health-care provider to ensure that you understand what was said.
  • Make a specific plan of action for any changes to the treatment or medication routine.
  • Make an appointment for the next visit.
  • Ask if blood tests, or any other tests, should be done.
  • If needed, ask for a refill of your child's medications during the clinic visit.

After the visit with your child's health-care team

  • Write down the recommendations given.
  • Decide how to implement them.
  • Tell the rest of the family.
  • Phone to get results from any other screening tests.

As your child gets older, they may play a greater part in the clinic visits and discussions. As a teenager, they may want to talk in private with the health-care team for part of the visit.

You need to be your child's advocate, be assertive, and get them the best possible care.

Last updated: July 8th 2013