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Navigating medical appointments

Good communication with doctors and other healthcare professionals is important in helping you fully understand what your child’s diagnosis means, what treatment options are available and how to care for your child.

The most important thing when it comes to medical appointments is to prepare! Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do before, during and after medical appointments:

How to prepare:

  • Make sure to write down all of your questions before you go in. Why not use a list app on your phone to keep track and note questions down as you think of them?
  • Keep track of symptoms. It is helpful for your doctor to know what symptoms your child has been experiencing and the more detail the better! Once again, you can use your phone to keep track of your symptoms in a separate list.
  • Bring a record of your child’s previous treatments with you, as this will help the doctor in making any decisions.

During your appointment:

  • Take detailed notes while you’re there. You may even want to bring a tape recorder with you. Just be sure to ask permission from the doctor before you hit the record button.
  • Bring a family member or friend so they can support you in asking hard questions and to provide an extra pair of ears, to catch anything you might miss.
  • Be honest and try to be specific as possible when talking to your doctor about your child. We know it’s not always easy, which is why it is important to prepare.
  • Agree your next appointment date before you leave the office or hospital.

Afterwards:

  • Go over your notes and make sure you understand everything you spoke about with the doctor. If you are unsure about anything, talk through with the person who was in the room with you, give the doctor a call or book a follow-up appointment.
  • Update your family and friends so they can support you and your child with the next steps.

Doctor’s appointments don’t have to be scary, stressful or negative experiences. As long as you take the right steps to prepare, you can leave an appointment feeling well-informed and positive with you and your child’s next steps.

References:

  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2018). Talking to Your Doctor. [online] Available at: https://www.nih.gov/institutes-nih/nih-office-director/office-communications-public-liaison/clear-communication/talking-your-doctor [Accessed 5 Sep. 2018].
  2. WebMD. (2018). How to Talk to Doctors When They Don’t Listen. [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/be-heard-by-dr#1 [Accessed 5 Sep. 2018].
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