The aim of this information sheet is to help parents and carers to prepare for a doctor’s appointment.
There can be a great deal of information provided during an appointment. By preparing a few things you will have a better chance of understanding the information you are given and will be able to ask informed questions.
You may find it helpful to write down a list of questions that you can bring to the appointment. This may seem obvious, but it can be very easy to forget to ask your questions during the appointment. You may also want to bring a pen and paper with you to take some notes. Any notes you take will help you to remember the details discussed during the appointment.
Depending on the age of your child, you may want to prepare them for the appointment.
If you have a young child, you may want to check they understand what words and phrases like ‘breathless’ or ‘keeping up with your friends’ mean. This will help them to reply to the doctor’s questions. You can also use a Molly’s Dolly to help prepare your child for their appointment. During the appointment the doctor can use the Molly’s Dolly to demonstrate any tests/examinations, which may help to reduce the child’s anxiety.
If your child is older, ask them to think about any questions they may want to ask the doctor. Older children, especially teenagers, may have questions that they are embarrassed to ask the doctor in front of you. If your child is in their teens, ask them if they would like to talk to the doctor alone.
As a great deal of information can be shared during appointments, it is often very helpful to have another adult with you. It can be hard to remember everything that is said during an appointment and having someone to support you will be helpful, especially when you are stressed. Why not ask a family member or a trusted friend to come with you? It may also be helpful to ask them to take notes during the appointment.
If you are unfamiliar with the English language, you can ask for an interpreter to attend the appointment. If you have communication problems, you can ask for a communication support worker to attend the appointment.
Finding out your child has a heart condition can be very upsetting. It can be hard to take everything in that you are being told. If you think of more questions after your appointment, book another appointment with the doctor, or ask to speak to them on the phone or via email. Alternatively, you can get in touch with your cardiac liaison nurse.
Some examples of questions you may want to ask are shown below:
If the doctor wants to do further tests on your child, you may want to ask the following questions:
It may be useful to bring a list of your child’s medication (include any food supplements, vitamins etc. ) to the appointment. Some parents find it easier to bring medicines to a doctor’s appointment rather than make a list. If the doctor is suggesting putting your child on medication, you may want to ask the following questions:
All operations carry some risk. If the doctor is suggesting your child needs an operation, it is important that you understand what these risks are before you decide whether or not to give your consent (permission).
Some of the questions you may want to ask in this situation are shown below:
Make sure you understand the next steps after the appointment.
Here are some questions that may be helpful:
Before you leave an appointment, check that you will be receiving a detailed letter about what was discussed with your doctor. Your GP should also get a copy of this letter. You should also make sure that you understand what has been discussed.
If a cardiac liaison nurse has been appointed to you, make sure to contact them with any health-related questions about your child.
If you are unsure about anything please call the CHF Infoline on 0808 808 5000 to speak to someone who can help.
Evidence and sources of information for this CHF information sheet can be obtained at:
(1) National Institute for Health & Care Excellence. Structural Heart Defects Overview. London: NICE; 2017. Available at:
(2) NHS Choices. Congenital Heart Disease. London: NHS; 2017. Available at:
About this document:
Published: June 2015
Reviewed: June 2017
Due for review: June 2019