It is common for parents to question when a child should move from pediatric to adult healthcare.
This decision often requires thought and advance planning before finding another primary healthcare provider for the child.
The following tips can help make the transition from pediatric to adult care a healthy, positive experience.
For most patients, the appropriateness to transition to an adult healthcare provider is based on age and development. Your pediatrician will help determine the age to transition care, which is typically between the ages of 18 and 21 years old. It is recommended that your pediatrician begin this evaluation at the age of 14 or 15.1
Concerns about confidentiality may prevent some teenaged patients from communicating openly with their pediatrician and seeking necessary medical care and counseling.2
Young patients may have questions about sexuality or substance abuse—subjects they may not want to discuss in front of a parent.
Experts recommend that teenagers are given privacy when seeing their doctor.3 Teens should be offered the opportunity for examination and counseling separate from parents or guardians. The parent(s) can be called in for discussion after the exam.
Transitioning from a pediatric doctor to an adult doctor requires help from the doctors on both sides, including preparing the adolescent to take charge of his or her own healthcare.4
Prepare your teen for the changes involved in their adult care, including their role in decision-making, privacy and consent, self-advocacy, and access to information.5 Patients 18 and older are considered adults. In order for a doctor to share information with a parent, the patient has to give written consent.
Your teen should learn to make appointments, keep records and manage other details and important information about their health. You and your current doctor can help prepare your teen for these changes by encouraging them to be more vocal during their appointments.
Treat the transition to adult care as an ongoing, collaborative process.6 Follow these tips to help your teen prepare:
When you choose a new doctor, select someone you trust and with whom your teen feels comfortable. You should begin the process of finding a new doctor and transfer your child’s records before your child leaves pediatric care.
Here are a few things to consider:
It may be helpful to find a doctor by asking family and friends for recommendations. Most importantly, ask your teen about their preferences for transferring to an adult provider and make sure they are part of the decision-making process.
“Supporting the Health Care Transition From Adolescence to Adulthood in the Medical Home,” The American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report, last accessed November 3, 2017, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/1/182.full.
“Adolescent Health Care, Confidentiality,” American Academy of Family Physicians, last accessed November 3, 2017, http://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/adolescent-confidentiality.html.
“Adolescent Health Care, Confidentiality.”
“Helping Adolescents Transition to Adult Health Care,” American Academy of Pediatrics, last accessed November 3, 2017, https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Helping-Adolescents-Transition-to-Adult-Health-Care.aspx.
“Transition Planning,” Got Transition, last accessed November 3, 2017, http://www.gottransition.org/providers/leaving-4.cfm.
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