A doctor listens to a baby. Learn how to be better prepared for your child's next doctor's appointment.

It can be frustrating when your visit to the pediatrician is not productive. When you don’t get the answers or the help you need, it ends up being a giant waste of time and money. Learning how to be better prepared for your child’s next doctor’s appointment will set you up for success during future visits.

Calling The Office

Before you even call the doctor’s office, write some notes about the problem you want your child seen for and include some details. (it doesn’t need to be long)

You can use your notes to ensure you share all the important details you want to get across.

Here’s an example:

Hi, I’m calling to make an appointment with Doctor Smith. My daughter Jane has had a sore throat since Monday. She refuses to eat or drink, and I’m concerned about her becoming dehydrated. I would like to see the doctor today if possible.

Why is this helpful?

By knowing what you are going to say, it will be easier to remember important details. Alerting the receptionist that you are worried about dehydration will help them understand why you want to be seen sooner rather than later.

Writing Down Questions You Have For Your Child’s Doctor

Once you have your appointment set, take a minute to write down your questions for the doctor. If you are not sure what to ask your, look up your concern” on a legitimate website like KidsHealth and educate yourself about possible diagnoses related to this problem.

Some Potential Questions from the sore throat scenario:

-What do you think is causing the sore throat?

-If she has strep, can she go to school?

-Will she need antibiotics, and for how long?

-Should I bring my younger son in if he develops a sore throat?

Writing down questions in advance will help you zero in on exactly what answers you are looking for during your time with the doctor.

A doctor assess a young girl.

Top four things you can do to help your appointment run more smoothly

  1. Prepare your child

Children can become nervous about going to the doctor when they are unsure of what is going to happen. They worry about receiving shots or other uncomfortable procedures. When we provide our children with information about what to expect, they will feel less anxious. A child who is prepared is more likely to be cooperative when the doctor is examining them.

2. Bring entertainment Items

Having things to keep our children occupied makes it easier to focus on communicating with the doctor. Without something to keep little hands busy, children are far more likely to demand our attention or attempt to climb on or touch everything in the office. While entertainment items can’t guarantee containment, they at least give us a fighting chance!

3. Leave siblings at home

If you can swing it, have a trusted individual watch your other children. This makes it far less chaotic in those tiny exam rooms. It is true that for many reasons, this can’t always happen. However, it is something to keep in mind when trying to limit distractions.

4. Arrive Early

If you are too late to an appointment, you may miss the appointment and have to reschedule. If you are late, you may also receive less of the doctor’s time. Cutting it too close can add to your stress, and make it more likely you are distracted. Try to leave early and plan for any delays such as unexpected traffic.

Communication Secrets To Getting More From Your Doctor’s Appointment

Use SBAR To Communicate With Your Child’s Doctor

What is SBAR?

SBAR is a communication tool to help relay essential information in a standardized way. It is an evidence-based tool that is now utilized in many different occupational settings. The healthcare field has enthusiastically embraced it because of how it can reduce errors and improve communication between healthcare team members.  

What does SBAR stand for?

SBAR stands for situation, background, assessment, and recommendation. 

What are the benefits of using SBAR when talking to your doctor?

  1. It’s a form of communication that most medical providers should recognize. It can help clue them in that what you are discussing is important to you. 
  2. It helps with time management by explaining your view in an efficient and concise manner.
  3. Using SBAR can help you stay organized when bringing up an issue so that you can get your point across clearly. 
  4. It can reduce communication errors and misunderstandings.

Situation

This is where you briefly explain why you are visiting the doctor. Try to stay on topic without getting sidetracked.

Background

Provide relevant details and information. You can describe when the problem started and some of the interventions you have tried at home.

Assessment

Offer your take on the situation. Describe what you believe might be happening. You can share anything you might think is contributing to the problem.

Recommendations

Share what you think could improve the situation. 

Putting SBAR Into Practice

Let’s put it all together with the following scenario: You have an appointment with your child’s pediatrician for a well-child appointment. You are concerned about a rash your child has had for several weeks now. 

Situation- 

 “I would like you to look at John’s rash. It’s on his back.”

Background

“He has had the rash for about three weeks. It started as a light red dots, and it’s been slowly spreading. We haven’t changed laundry detergent or introduced any new pets into the home. He hasn’t been sick recently.”

Assessment

“I think he might have some allergies that we are not aware of. I remember this happening last spring as well.”

Recommendation

“I would like you to refer us to an allergy doctor. Do you have a list of providers?”

Using SBAR to communicate is like speaking in your doctor’s native tongue. It will help you communicate with your doctor in a more concise and productive way.

Ask the doctor or the nurse to print up information about the diagnosis

This is done routinely in many doctor’s offices now, but be sure to ask for one if they forget to do it. This information can be helpful in letting you know how to continue to treat and monitor the injury/illness at home. The information should have detailed explanations that you can refer to.

Oftentimes a doctor will ask if you have any other questions before you leave. If you don’t have any, this is always a good one to ask.

“Is there anything else that parents ask about when a child experiences this?”

This may jolt the doctor’s memory about anything they may have forgotten to tell you that could be useful. 

Final Thoughts

With a little preparation you can get the most out of your child’s doctor’s appointments. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. If you have a doctor who doesn’t listen to you, consider finding a new healthcare provider. You deserve to get your questions answered and find solutions to your child’s health challenges!

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