Be sure to call and confirm your appointment ahead of time. At your first appointment, ask how best to confirm future appointments. Also, know that a parent or legal guardian must come to the appointment and be with the child at all times.
Ask If Your Child Needs Lab Work
You might find that after your first appointment that blood work, urine specimens, or other advanced lab tests may be necessary prior to future appointments. If so, ask if you can have the tests done at your local hospital or through your pediatrician as it may save you and your child a trip to the lab. If you are having advanced tests done, be sure to ask the outpatient center where the results should be faxed or sent, and bring a copy of the results to your next appointment. This can prevent having tests performed more than once on your child.
Write Down Your Questions & Bring Them with You
Before your child's appointment, write down all your questions. If you know grandparents or other family members have questions of their own, write those down as well.
In addition to bringing your insurance card, your physician referral and/or physician orders and any payment or co-payment that may be due, here are a few more things to consider. Pack as if you will be away from home for a full day, and bring everything you are likely to need for the next 12 to 24 hours. Also know that:
Your outpatient center will not have ready access to diapers or formula.
If your child needs prescription medication, you should bring it with you, even if you are going to the Emergency Department.
It's best to bring things for both you and your child. Reading material, favorite toys, food/formula, diapers, a change of clothes, blanket, change for the vending machine, etc.
Be Patient, Be on Time
As much as the hospital tries to ensure you are seen at your scheduled appointment time, delays do happen. Things that can make your appointments run smoothly include:
Being on time. This will help you avoid additional delays.
Keep a level head. Try to remain calm while you wait for your appointment. It will help to make it a productive visit with your doctor.
Be first. Schedule your appointments first thing in the morning or first thing in the afternoon.
Schedule Follow-up Visits When Still at Your Appointment
Be sure to ask at your first visit how to best handle follow-up appointments. If the doctor or nurse tells you to come back in three months for a follow-up visit, schedule the appointment before you leave. Even if this seems inconvenient at the time, it is the easiest way to ensure your child receives timely follow-up medical care. Take an appointment card with you as a reminder (available with the physician's name and phone number).
Keep Your Child's Medical History
It's simple and helpful to create a journal of your child's medical history. This journal can help you work with physicians to achieve the best health care for your child — especially in emergency situations. Record important information about doctors, medications, vaccinations, lab tests, and more. Many pre-made journals come with easy-to-use charts and helpful prompts so you can track the progress of your child's symptoms and communicate efficiently with your health care team.