Child Illness Parent Advice Talking Doctor

A doctor’s appointment for sick children isn’t always a calm affair. Parents are trying to comfort sick children, remember symptoms and remember questions for the doctor all at once. This causes some parents to come out of medical appointments with as many questions as they had before talking to the doctor.

A few simple strategies can make doctor’s appointments with sick children much more productive and considerably less stressful. Try these strategies next time you have to make a doctor’s appointment for your child.

A List of Questions for the Doctor

Before you go to the doctor’s appointment, write down a list of questions you have for the doctor. Also, it’s a good idea to also note the types of symptoms the child has, how long he has had them and whether the child is on any medication.

By writing down a list of questions for the doctor and other important information, you have a checklist for the doctor’s appointment. This way you won’t forget anything important when talking to the doctor.

Some important questions to ask include:

  • Can medication help the child? If so, are there side effects to the medication?
  • Is the condition contagious?
  • Is there a way to prevent this condition from happening in the future?
  • How long should the child’s symptoms last?
  • What do the child’s symptoms mean?
  • What should I do if the child’s symptoms worsen?

Staying Focused at the Doctor’s Appointment

Stay focused when talking to the doctor. Remember the original reason for the doctor’s appointment and stick to it. If you suddenly remember another concern, call the doctor or make a second doctor’s appointment, depending on the importance of the issue.

Staying focused means bringing as few distractions to the appointment as possible. Sick children are difficult enough to deal with in a doctor’s office without bringing their siblings to the appointment. If at all possible, leave other children at home with a babysitter, relative or friend.

Cell phones should be turned off during doctor’s appointments. Answering the phone while talking to the doctor distracts you and may cause you to forget to ask something important. Some doctors also view answering a cell phone during an appointment as rude, so avoid this if at all possible.

If possible, both parents should attend doctor’s appointments. Your partner may have his own concerns and list of questions for the doctor or may have noticed something about the sick child that you have missed.

Talk, Don’t Argue

Parents today have easy access to medical knowledge online. While this can help parents while talking to the doctor, sometimes online information conflicts with what the doctor is saying.

Arguing medical points with your doctor will only make the appointment uncomfortable for everyone. By all means, bring up information you have found online, but remember that the doctor should have the final say. Keep in mind that it is always possible the online information is out-of-date or, in the case of personal medical sites, entirely wrong.

Follow Up After the Doctor’s Appointment

When you take your list of questions to the doctor’s office, make sure you take a pen as well. Because sick children may need follow-up tests or appointments, you may have to jot down information and new appointment dates, as well as information about any medication that may be prescribed for the child.

Talking to Pharmacists

Even if you discuss medication with your doctor, talking to pharmacists is never a waste of time. Pharmacists are trained in areas such as medication interactions and drug side effects. If you forgot to ask questions about prescribed medication at the doctor’s appointment, talking to pharmacists can clear up your concerns.

Questions to ask when talking to pharmacists include:

  • Are there any special precautions you need to take while the child is on the medicine?
  • Does the medication have any side effects?
  • Does the medicine need special storage?
  • Is it okay to cut or crush the pills?
  • Should certain foods or vitamins be avoided while using the prescription?
  • Should medicine be taken with or without food?
  • Will the medicine conflict with other medications?

Talking to Nurses

When sick children are hospitalized, nurses play an important role in their care. While parents can find out specific medical information by talking to the doctor, talking to nurses provides important information about the hospital wards’ policies and procedures.

Talking to nurses has other benefits, as well. Nurses tend to know more about how sick children sleep at night, how much they eat and how positive they’re feeling. Talking to nurses can make a hospital stay much easier for both parents and sick children.


Nemours Foundation (2004). How to talk to your child’s doctor. Retrieved February 21, 2006, from the Nemours Foundation Web site:

Nemours Foundation (2004). Talking to the pharmacist. Retrieved February 21, 2006, from the Nemours Foundation Web site:

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center (n.d.). Talking with your child’s doctor. Retrieved February 21, 2006, from the Seattle Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center Web site: