Chicago neurodevelopmental pediatrician Dr. Alan Rosenblatt sees a number of children with complex medical histories every day.
Through his work with patients and with the American Academy of Pediatrics, he has discovered that a complete, detailed health history is a vital part of creating a successful plan of action.
Rosenblatt offers these ideas on how to manage your child's care:
1. Keep a notebook. Although traditional spiral-bound notebooks and three-ring binders are fine organizational methods, Rosenblatt recommends an electronic notebook.
"Parents can keep their child's data online," he says. "A doctor can access the patient's chart from his office during a visit."
In addition to recording health details online, the records also can be downloaded to a flash drive, which are available even in the form of a bracelet.
"Because of technology, health information can easily be kept with the child," he says.
2. Request copies of everything. Take the time to request every test result and file the information, Rosenblatt advises. Remember to answer the basic questions-who, what, where, when and why.
Who did your child see? Where, when and at what time? Why was the medical professional consulted? What tests were recommended or completed? What were the results?
Because of privacy laws, sign a release when visiting a health professional's office. This will protect you when requesting copies of the consultation notes.
"I get the authority to send the notes to the primary care physician and I ask the patients if they want a copy sent to them. Once they receive it they can send copies to whoever they want," he explains.
3. Update your child's list of medications and therapies frequently and bring a copy with you to all appointments.
4. When appropriate and helpful, send your child's detailed health summary to a specialist before the scheduled appointment.
"I typically send out a 12-page questionnaire for parents to complete before the appointment, and then they can e-mail it or mail it back to me. Parents often will attach documents. This allows me to review the information ahead of time," Rosenblatt says.
5. Create a medical home for your child. "A medical home leads to better integration of medical care for the medically complex child," he adds.
Go to http://www.medicalhomeinfo.org/tools/med_home.html. The American Academy of Pediatrics sponsors the Web site. You will find links, resources and information about how to get started.