In 2012, Mail Online UK reported a mother's harrowing tale of her ten-year-old daughter's untimely death due to a tumor lodged in her windpipe.
Unfortunately, the little girl's death was very preventable, if only the doctors who treated the little girl had listened to her mother's pleas for more tests because she didn't feel her daughter's breathing problems were due to “run-of-the-mill asthma symptoms.”
Stories like this are enough to make us parents question if the doctor was right every time they told us we were being paranoid over a new symptom our child displayed. Thankfully most of the time, they are right, but what do we do on that one occasion where we really think something's wrong?
In 2013, Dr. Leana S. Wen shared some wonderful tips on Maria Shriver's website on how to get doctors to listen to your concerns. Her tips came in handy during the trips I made with my son to his pediatrician to address his developmental delays. I was convinced that Cooper, who was born two months premature but had been otherwise healthy his whole life, had some developmental problems.
He was more than 18 months old before he learned to walk, and he wouldn't fully use the potty until he was nearly four. He also had major speech delays and had trouble with simple childhood tasks like building Lego Duplos sets.
Though Cooper was late in hitting milestones like walking and using the potty, I couldn't convince his doctor that he needed testing for delays or even autism. Every time he hit a milestone, it was just under the marker of being severely delayed, meaning he still always fell in the “normal range,” though at the very bottom of that line. I found myself remembering this article by Dr. Wen, so I put her tips to the test. And they worked! Finally, she referred us to a testing center where Cooper was later determined to have developmental delays in language, cognitive, and motor skills.
Dr. Wen's first tip is to “answer the doctor's pressing questions first” folllowed by “attaching a narrative response to the end of close-ended questions.” What Dr. Wen meant by these statements is this: Most questions doctors ask require yes/no answers. Dr. Wen advises to instead treat the questions as how/why.
Give a short but detailed answer that will push the doctor to ask more questions instead of brushing it off. She then advises to ask your own questions, and if the doctor cuts you off during a statement, don't be afraid to interrupt right back and continue sharing your concern. Dr. Wen says to also “focus on your concern.” If you think the doctor is brushing off your concerns, let him or her know.
At the same time the doctor urges readers to remain “courteous and respectful to doctors,” it keeps doctor-patient relationships in good-standing, and the doctor's more likely to listen to your concerns on your child's next visit.
Did you receive adequate support and information when you received your child's diagnosis?