QA With Author Tracy Davenport: Why should parents make sure they’re members of their child’s healthcare team?

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Why should parents make sure they’re members of their child’s healthcare team?

    I think there are many reasons why parents should make sure they are a part of their child’s healthcare team. The three reasons below may not be the most obvious ones, but hopefully they will offer insights to parents about the importance of full participation.

    The first reason is consistency. If your child has acid reflux, most likely they will be visiting a variety of physicians, and these medical professionals will make up their “healthcare team.” Since it is very likely that these medical folks will not have much personal contact between them, you will be the one to serve as the constant between the various medical healthcare providers. For example, even if your child has simple, uncomplicated reflux, then you will probably be the one to let your child’s dentist know that early on, your baby had reflux (this can be important information to a dentist, since refluxed stomach contents can be very acidic and therefore very erosive). If the reflux has caused other complications, then you may find yourself sharing information between the GI doctor, ENT doctor, nutritionist and pharmacist. Often times these professionals send a note about the recent visits to each other, but time and again not everyone is corresponding with everyone else effectively. This means that you may be the one to communicate what medical events have transpired between doctor visits (e.g., other appointments, medicine changes, health changes) and what information has been gained that might affect the next healthcare teammate.
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    The second reason to fully participate has to do with the daily observations of your baby or child. No physician, no matter how well educated, will know your baby like you do. If you are a responsible part of the healthcare team, you will probably be the one to record the day to day observations of things like how the baby slept, how they ate, and which treatments seemed to help the most. Sometimes physicians are limited to seeing your baby for as little as 15 – 30 minutes every three months. Your observations may be key to making life better for the baby or child with acid reflux.

    And finally, when you are a contributing member of your healthcare team, you insure that decisions are made in a more thoughtful way, better than if just one person (a doctor) was making them. Whether your child’s healthcare team consists of one person, or five people, each participant will be working toward a common goal, but will undoubtedly have different areas of expertise, and possibly different opinions about the treatment. As a parent to a baby or child with reflux, you will have your own unique perspective regarding the medical case.

    After all, isn’t this why we have a United States Supreme Court, and a Senate and a Congress? The framers of the constitution knew that as the topics became more complex, the best decisions would be made by multiple members who are available to voice differing opinions and check each other!

  • Of course, none of this is new. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders ( was founded in 1991. IFFGD began with one newsletter. It’s name? “Participate.”
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Published On: August 23, 2006