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When to Call Your Child’s Doctors

Originally published on November 10, 2009
Most recently updated on April 10, 2013

It will help if you discuss ahead of time with your child’s doctors (and write down in your notebook) what signs and symptoms you might normally expect to see during your child’s recovery period. Collect prescriptions for all medicines you might possibly need. Ask the doctor what complications may occur. Discuss ahead of time what constitutes an emergency and where to take your child if an emergency occurs.

A parent’s intuition is wonderfully reliable, so please call the doctor if you sense that your child’s condition has changed or taken a turn for the worse; some situations can be life threatening. Report any obvious physical or behavioral changes even if the symptoms don’t match any that have previously been highlighted by your child’s medical team. Put aside such considerations as not wanting to bother the doctor, thinking your problem may have no urgency or waiting until morning. You know your child best, so don’t hesitate to call medical professionals when you need answers or notice an unexpected symptom. (Sometimes the nurse will be easier to reach than the doctor and have more time to answer your questions.)

You may never again take casually your child’s complaints about a headache or dizziness. But common sense and basic medical knowledge will help you decide what to do. When in doubt . . . call!

Know how to reach all members of your child’s health care team during and after office hours. Keep these important phone numbers with you at all times (that trusty notebook again!), and make sure they’re accessible to anyone caring for your child in your absence.


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