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Childhood and adolescence are a critical period in a person’s life. It’s important that children see the doctor regularly for well-care visits. These visits are an important opportunity for doctors to check your child’s development and to provide guidance on health issues, such as weight and physical activity.

Prevention is an important component of your child’s health care. Children should get preventive fluoride treatments from their pediatricians to prevent tooth decay, the most common childhood disease. Children and adolescents should also be vaccinated for a wide range of diseases.

When children do have an illness, it’s important that they receive the right care. For example, a child with a sore throat should be tested for strep before receiving an antibiotic.

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What can patients do?

Your child has rights as a patient. As their parent, you have rights and responsibilities too. To make sure your child gets the best care possible, there are a few things you can do.

  • Speak up. Kids can’t always express themselves as well as adults, so sometimes parents need to speak up for them. You know your child best, so say something if you have questions or concerns. Let them know it’s OK if he or she speaks up, too.
  • Ask questions. You can also ask for things to be explained more clearly if you don’t understand. Encourage your child to ask questions, too. If your child is facing a test or treatment, ask if there are any alternatives, what to expect and how much it will cost.
  • Be prepared. One of the most important things you can do to help your child is to keep all records, follow-up details and other information about his or her care organized and ready for your appointment.
  • Follow the plan. Following up on treatment is an important part of getting high-value health care. Make sure your child understands anything she or he needs to do to stay healthy, and then make sure it happens. Follow recommendations for vaccinations and schedule well-child visits.

Visit Own Your Health to help you make informed health care decisions.

What should doctors do?

  • Make sure that your child is receiving immunizations at the recommended intervals.
  • Apply a fluoride varnish to your child’s teeth during a well-child visit.
  • Monitor your children’s weight and physical activity and teach your child how to maintain healthy levels of each.
  • Perform a strep test before prescribing antibiotics for a sore throat, to ensure that antibiotics are the appropriate treatment.
  • Make sure children with chronic conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, are following their treatment plan.
  • Prescribe generic drugs as appropriate in order to reduce your costs.