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Preparing for Your First Visit

Before you and your child arrive for your first visit, you will have already received information from your new patient coordinator explaining where to go and what to bring. Please read this information carefully.

Before your first visit

If your child's visit will be paid for by health insurance, you may need to obtain approval ahead of time. Contact your insurance company to make sure any necessary documents are in place. If you do not have insurance and/or have questions about paying for care, get answers here.

Gather necessary information

Many patients are surprised by the amount of preparation needed for the first appointment. Having complete information helps facilitate the process of getting the correct diagnosis and planning treatment for your child. Please have as much of the following information gathered as possible when you call or bring it with you to your appointment:

Patient summary

  • date of birth
  • address
  • parent or guardian contact information
  • insurance information

Complete clinical summary

  • physician's name and contact information
  • diagnosis, or working diagnosis, and list of presenting symptoms
  • all scans, including MRI, CAT, Ultrasound, PET and MIBG
  • pathology slides and reports
  • operative note, if surgery was performed
  • radiation therapeutic summary, if your child had radiation
  • comprehensive list of previous chemotherapeutic agents, with dates and doses, if your child had chemotherapy

If you receive forms prior to your first visit, please complete them to the best of your ability. Forms may include a medication list, patient history form, or questionnaire about your illness.

Know where you’re going

Review maps and directions so you will feel confident you can find your way, especially if your destination is unfamiliar. 

Think about the questions you want to ask

Some people want to know everything about their child's diagnosis, while others just want to know the basic facts.

Don’t be afraid to tell your providers how much or how little information you want. You might be an "information junkie" who wants all the facts. Or you may prefer a general overview with simple directions — what pill to give your child, what treatment he or she will have, and when treatment will be done.

Here are some basic questions your providers can answer for you:

  • What's wrong with my child?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • Are there other treatments?
  • What are the benefits of these treatments?
  • What are the risks?
  • What medicines are you giving my child? What are they for?
  • How should my child expect to feel during treatment?
  • What side effects, if any, can my child expect to have?
  • What long term effects, if any, can my child expect to have?

Here are some additional questions you may want to ask:

  • Who else receives information about my child? Are my records shared?
  • Will the disease or the treatment keep my child from going to school?
  • Will my child have any physical limitations?

Getting the most out of your visit

Here are some tips to guide your first and subsequent visits:

  • Communicate with your child's health care team. You are an important member of your child's health care team. Your child's doctors and nurses know a lot about the disease, but you know a lot about your own child. Share your fears and concerns, and feel free to ask questions or have something explained again.  
  • Listen carefully. Take notes when your doctor or nurse explains something, or ask your companion to do so. You might want to bring along a notebook and pen, voice recorder, laptop computer, or portable electronic device to help keep track of key information. If you'd like to record the session, you will need verbal permission from your clinician and anyone else participating in the conversation.
  • Consider bringing along another family member or friend. Having support may help you with taking notes and making decisions.
  • Jot down the names of your child's health care team and office staff.
  • Bring your child's ID cards. Keep your insurance card and blue hospital cards with you at all times.
  • Know what, if any drugs your child takes. Make a list of all medications your child takes and any allergies he or she has. Update this list often and carry it with you to share with your health care team.
  • Try to be on time for appointments. Plan enough time for traffic delays (especially during the Red Sox season) and parking. Checking in at least 30 minutes before your first appointment and 15 minutes before subsequent appointments can help ensure that your child and other patients are seen promptly throughout the day.