Preparing for an Appointment

Word of mouth is a great way to find a specialist for your child. Ask other parents for their recommendations. Your child’s current doctor(s) already knows your child and may be able to refer you to a physician or therapist that would be a good fit for your child and family.

When scheduling an appointment with a new doctor:

If your child has difficulty waiting for appointments or struggles with busy waiting rooms, ask the scheduler to make your appointment for a less busy time of day. Doctors often run behind. Having the first appointment of the day or the first appointment after lunch may shorten the wait.

  • Ask what insurance plans the provider accepts. Not all providers accept Medical Assistance/TEFRA.
  • Explain any special needs your child has and request any accommodations your child will need  to make the appointment a more positive experience.
  • Prepare a developmental history of your child and keep it up to date. Include a description of your child’s disability, including significant illnesses and surgeries. List other specialists your child has seen along with a summary of each visit. 
  • Children and adults with developmental disabilities often have complex medical histories and have seen many specialists. A new doctor will appreciate receiving reports from current and previous doctors, including test results. If there are extensive records, include only the most pertinent medical records, but bring the rest of the records along in case you need them. See section on Getting Organized for tips on how to compile records in a user-friendly format.
  • Requesting copies of medical records requires signing a medical release and may take time to process. If you have an upcoming appointment, waiting for records to arrive in the mail can be stressful. To avoid this potential problem, each time you visit the doctor, request a copy of the notes for your child’s appointment, along with any test results.

Access to Health Records Notice of Rights – Minnesota Department of Health

This notice explains the rights you have to access your health record, and when certain Information in your health record can be released without your consent.

Hand-carrying records assures you will have them for your appointment. If you are having your child’s medical records forwarded directly from another provider, call to verify the records have arrived prior to the visit.

Maximum Charges for Copies of Patient Records – Minnesota Department of Health

Providers may charge for copies of patient records. State law limits the amount of these charges.

Before the appointment:

  • Physicians see patients with a great variety of conditions.  If your child has a rare or unusual syndrome or condition, bring along information to educate new doctors and specialists on your child’s specific disability.
  • Do your research so you can speak intelligently about your child’s condition and fully participate in their care. Pubmed is a free resource from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that comprises over 20 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. There are also many online sites devoted to specific conditions/disabilities. See the Advocacy Section for a list of some disability-specific sites.
  • Write down information you want to discuss along with any questions you may have for the doctor. The stress resulting from an uncooperative child and long times spent in the waiting room can zap your memory. List items in order of importance in case you run out of time and can’t discuss everything.