Sick Child - How to Communicate with the Doctor
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When a child is sick or injured, every protective, nurturing feeling you have comes rushing forward. It's difficult to think about anything except your child, and doing whatever you can to relieve their suffering - right NOW!
Getting quality medical care, without feeling like you're a number or the next piece on the assembly line is getting harder. The days of having the same family doctor who treated you, and your parents and now your kids, have gone the way of house calls. Doctors today are feeling the pressure too. They are being told to see more patients and given less time to do it. In fact, with HMO's, health insurance cutbacks, and over-booked appointments, you might not have that much time to talk to your child's doctor during a well-child checkup, let alone now, when your child is sick!
That's why it's important to have a form that you keep in your child's medical file in your child's medical file that you can pull out and use when your child is sick.
In order to decide about the best treatment for your child, your doctor is going to need the answers to some very specific questions.
You can create a form yourself on your computer in less than an hour, and it will work for every member of your family. It will let you keep track of the treatment you're giving your child, monitor his/her symptoms, and provide the doctor all the information she needs.
The form should also include a section where you can write down the questions you've got, because once you're on the phone or visiting with the doctor, chances are that you'll forget something.
Here is a checklist of information your doctor needs to know:
First of all, your doctor is going to need your child's name, age, date of birth and weight. So put a place at the top of the form where you can fill that information in. You might also want to include the date for your own records.
Separate the rest of the form into the following sections in a way that makes sense to you. (The examples given might help you come up with your own ideas).
1. Symptoms. What is the location, duration and character of the discomfort? What brought it on? Is there anything that aggravates the symptoms? Has anything relieved the symptoms? When is the last time your child had anything to eat or drink? What? When? How much? What was your child doing at the time the discomfort began?
2. Medications: Is your child currently taking any medications? What about herbal supplements? Vitamins? Anything for pain, fever, nausea, diarrhea? List the substance, the dose in milligrams and when it was last administered. Is your child on any medication for a chronic condition?
3. Previous Medical History: What is your child's previous medical condition? (This could be a chronic illness like diabetes or Crohn's disease, any major childhood illnesses, etc.) The doctor will want to know about anything chronic (long-term) or anything recent. Is your child allergic to any medications, food or other substances?
4. Previous Surgeries or hospitalizations (within the last 12 to 18 months): Has your child had any previous surgeries? (appendectomy, tonsillitis, etc.) If so, when? Who was the doctor? What hospital? When? Has your child ever been admitted to the hospital? If so, when? For what reason? How long were they a patient? If you have copies of hospitalization records and procedure reports in your child's medical report, make sure you take them with you if you need to see the doctor.
5. Current course of action. Does your child have a fever? If so, when did it start? How high is it? When did you check it? (How did you check it? axillary, orally, rectally?) Did you give him some medication to bring it down? If so, what and how much? When? Has your child thrown up? Does your child have a headache? What action have you taken to relieve the symptoms?(This part of your form is so you can tell the doctor what you've been doing and when.
6. Finally, you want to have a section for your questions. That way you can write them down as you think about them, so that when you do talk to the doctor, you'll know exactly what you want to ask, and won't forget anything. Some things you might want to ask about include:
What symptoms should I watch out for? When should I call you again, or bring my child in? What do you think is causing my child's sickness? Is there more than one condition that could be causing it?
Keeping track of this information and having it available for your child's doctor will help him to decide on a course of action, and treat your child appropriately, so that he/she gets feeling better as quickly as possible. And, that's what you want too!
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