Thoughtful Parenting: How to be the best advocate for your child’s health
March 25, 2018
As the parent, you are the primary caregiver for your child and no one knows more about your child than you do. Should this change when you go to visit the doctor? Absolutely not.
Doctors are well trained experts in medicine and they have the best intentions, but sometimes they do not know what is best for each individual. As the parent, you have the responsibility and knowledge to be your child's best health advocate.
I am a doctor, but more importantly I am a parent and therefore I see both sides of this situation regularly. I have been challenged by parents as well as being the one challenging my own child's doctor. I therefore know what my rights are as a parent and as a doctor making sure that the child in front of me is getting the care they need to live their life to the fullest.
So how do we find the right doctor for our child and navigate the visit? We start by asking the right questions and finding a respectful doctor you are comfortable with. Whether you are going in for a routine well child visit or for an illness, we need to know what questions to ask to make sure we are getting the best care possible.
A good doctor should do the following.
- Spend time with you and listen to your child's health story.
- Educate you and your child about what is going on.
- Provide options.
- Back up their recommendations with facts and proper research and not opinions.
- Make you feel comfortable with the recommendations.
- Provide a timeline and health goals for your child.
- Be easy to get a hold of or see for a follow up.
- Make you feel comfortable enough bringing up your own ideas.
- Treat you with respect.
The following are things to consider at appointments.
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- Copy of medical records: They are not a secret; you should know what is in it.
- Copy of anything signed: Know what you are agreeing to when you see the doctor.
- Vaccine information: By law, every child that gets a vaccine gets a Centers for Disease Control Vaccine Information Statement, that is specific to the vaccines administered. You are also entitled to view or get a copy of any manufacturer's vaccine data sheet upon request.
- Physical examination interpretation: Whether the findings are normal or not, you should know what they are investigating for and know what that result means for your child.
- Specific research and thoughts: Doctors are well researched and studied, but they do not know everything and should tell you when they do not know enough to give you their professional opinion. If they know the information they should present it in a non-biased way. You are entitled to ask for the research that backs it up.
- Prescription medications: Ask about side effects, adverse effects, as well as, risks and benefits that come along with that medication.
- Asking for alternatives or options: Always ask what your options are, there is never only one path.
- Right to Refuse: If you do not feel the treatment plan is right for your child, you have the right to refuse and seek a second opinion.
You should never walk out of an appointment feeling like you were not heard or that the treatment you were given is not meeting you or your child's goals. What we do for our children now, will impact them for the rest of their lives so let's make sure they are getting the care they need.
Dr. Meghan Holpuch at Sumovia Naturopathic Healthcare is a registered naturopathic doctor in the state of Colorado, but more importantly an educator and an advocate for your health. Naturopathic Medicine is a form of medicine that takes a comprehensive approach to your health by taking into account your physical, mental and emotional health and finding the root cause of your ailments. Holpuch is about treating the cause and using preventative and lifestyle medicine to get you from sickness to wellness. Holpuch practice focuses on pediatric and family medicine as well as chronic illness treatment and prevention.Visit sumovia.com for more information about Holpuch and how to become a patient.