Before You Visit The Pediatrician

You've got the diaper bag, a cold drink and snacks for the kids. But what else should you bring to a doctor's visit? Being prepared can help you make the most of each pediatric visit.

Medical care is expensive enough. Having to repeat a visit and pay an additional fee because you forgot something can be costly, money and time-wise. Here are a few suggestions from some leading experts in the medical field.

Don't forget a list of questions

"Parents should make a written list of any questions they may have for the doctors before coming into the office," suggests Dr Meridith Messinger, director of undergraduate pediatric medical education at Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn, New York, and a practicing community pediatrician. "Even if they are feeling fine, restless or inquisitive children can distract parents, causing parents to forget questions or issues they really wanted to discuss with the doctor."

Expert Suggestion:
Make a list of questions ahead of time. Place it in your child's diaper bag or your wallet.

Vaccinations & records

"You may think you remember every shot your child ever got, but don't rely on your memory when you go to the doctor's office," warns Dr Messinger. Immunizations records are also important for a second reason: if your child has not been under the care of the same pediatrician his or her entire life, it is essential to have his or her immunization records on hand.

Expert Suggestion:
Always carry a photocopy of your child's chart in your wallet or purse. Bring the hard copy with you to each visit. Even if you forget the original, at least you will have a reference with you.

finding The right people

"A lot of pediatric issues that come up with children are associated with a lack of understanding by the caretaker or conflict among the caretakers," remarks Dr Peter Tesler, director of outpatient pediatrics at St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan. "Oftentimes pediatricians are asked about the right way to do things such as discipline, dissolve disputes over medical care, avoid obesity, etc. In those circumstances, we need parents to bring the right people to the visit. It is essential that all the people who may be involved in caring for the child are present. If a child is getting too heavy and Mom brings him in to get help, but his grandmother takes care of him during the day and is overfeeding him, then the doctor needs Grandma in the room too. Oftentimes I find that I don't have the right people there, and I can't solve any issues if all the key players aren't in the room as well."

Expert Suggestion:
Schedule doctor's visits for long-term issues such as obesity around a convenient schedule for all interested parties.

Hospital discharge records

"Even if the child has always been followed by the same pediatrician, the doctor may not have records of a hospital ER visit or admission, if they occurred away from home or on an emergency basis without the regular pediatrician's input," remarks Dr Messinger. Always bring that paperwork with you.

Expert Suggestion:
Place a copy of discharge papers in the glove compartment of your car. Make copies if you own more than one vehicle. Even if you forget to bring it with you into the office, you will have it within walking distance if needed.

your child's Medication

If the child is on medication, parents should either bring the medication or the medication's name, just to be sure what the child is taking corroborates with the pediatrician's records. "Avoid descriptions such as 'the pink syrup'," says Dr Messinger.

Expert Suggestion:
Keep the pharmacy copy of the medicine description in your purse or wallet. When it comes time to visit the doctor again, you will have the name of the medication with you.

Creative solution

"Parents can bring a dirty diaper if they're concerned about the baby's stools or food they think might be bothering the baby," suggests Peggy McMahon, RN, a pediatric clinic nurse at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

Expert Suggestion:
Wrap a freshly soiled diaper in a plastic bag and place it in your diaper bag.

Toys & books

Children are not good at waiting. "Bring something favorite from home to keep your child occupied," suggests Dr Messinger. Many pediatricians have toys, but it is comforting for the child to have a familiar stuffed animal or other plaything during the doctor's visit.

Expert Suggestion:
Place a favorite toy in the diaper bag or in the trunk of the car for such trips.

Whether it is a well-baby check-up or an ER visit, it is best to come prepared. In the long run, it will save you time, money and wear and tear on your nerves.

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