The 6 questions you should always ask your pediatrician before leaving the office.

Research shows that there are often communication problems between doctors or nurses and parents when a child is discharged from an emergency room or hospital. Sometimes this happens even after a normal pediatric outpatient visit. 

For example, parents don’t fully understand the diagnosis, prognosis or treatment. Or other important things they need to know. 

And this leads to the risk of not properly supervising therapy or observation, which is dangerous for the child. 

For example, in 70% of cases, parents don’t know what the warning signs are, and when they should take the child back to the doctor. 

SAFER Care: the 6 questions to always ask your pediatrician at the end of your visit. 

Before you go home after a pediatric visit, or to the emergency room, or from the Hospital, always ask the doctor these things (if he or she hasn’t already told you).

You can use the word “SAFER Care” to remind them. But it pays to write these questions down on a piece of paper to bring to your pediatric visit. 

Warning. Many parents do not ask anything, thinking they will find the information on the internet. You can find something but each child is specific. So always ask the pediatrician. 

Here are the questions:

SCHOOL: When can the child return to school or daycare?

ACTIVITY: Can she return to physical activity or does she need to rest? How long?

FOLLOW-UP: Does the child need a checkup? When? With whom?

EVOLUTION: What are the normal symptoms I should expect in the next few days?

RETURN TO VISIT: What are the warning symptoms? When should I take the child back for another visit? Or when should I call the doctor or hospital right away?

CALLS: Who should I call if I have concerns or questions?

SCHOOL: When can I bring my child back to school or daycare?

This information is important for you as a parent, also to make arrangements for work or otherwise. 

For some conditions you can return to school the next day. For others, it is better to wait. Depending on your child’s medical condition, your pediatrician will be able to tell you when it is appropriate to return your child to school. 

ACTIVITY: Can he/she return to physical activity or must he/she rest? How long?

Does he have to miss soccer practice? Or have an exemption for gymnastics at school?

In the case of a normal infectious disease, rest will be short. But in case of a major fever that lasts several days, it is possible that your pediatrician will advise you to avoid practices or gymnastics at school. At least for a couple of weeks. 

If your child has an ear infection, especially if it’s perforated, it’s important to know when he can resume swimming.

FOLLOW-UP: Does your child need a checkup? When? With which doctor?

For different pathologies, such as otitis importante or asthmatic crisis, or different traumas, it is appropriate for the child to have a checkup after a certain time. 

It is always necessary to ask the pediatrician if a checkup is useful. Then you need to know the exact day and who will see the child. For example, the same pediatrician or another specialist depending on the disease. 

EVOLUTION: What are the normal symptoms that I should expect in the next few days?

It often takes several days for the child to get better. But you need to know what the normal course of the disease will be. 

For example, how many more days the fever or cough may last. Or how long the earache may last even once the antibiotic therapy is started. 

Or, for example, the child has had diarrhea for 2 days. When does it go away? Is fatigue normal? 

RETURN TO VISIT: What are the warning symptoms?

When should the child be taken back to the doctor or ER? 

This is essential information, perhaps the most important. If you don’t know exactly what symptoms indicate that something is wrong, your child is at risk. 

For example, for a child with bronchitis, warning symptoms may be faster-than-usual breathing, or indentations of the skin between the ribs. If the parent doesn’t know, he or she may not notice that the child is getting worse. 

CALL: Who should I call if I have concerns or questions?

If you’re unsure about something regarding treatment or the progress of the disease, it’s critical that you know exactly who you can call, and at what times.