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Pediatricians' Group Urges More Input From Parents
Date:1/31/2012

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- When children are sick, family participation is central to their treatment, says a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which calls for patients, their parents and pediatricians to become partners at every level of care.

In the hospital, parents should be encouraged to stay with their child, sit in on physician "rounds," and accompany the youngster during medical procedures, the statement says. Pediatricians should also offer parents support, respect their preferences about care and communicate openly with children and teenagers about their condition.

"It's incorporating where the family stands, its belief systems, to help in making decisions," said Dr. Jerrold Eichner, co-author of the statement and a pediatric pulmonologist and past chair of the AAP's Committee on Hospital Care. "It's a gradual movement, going on for decades."

The statement, published online Jan. 30 and in the February print issue of Pediatrics, was met with praise from a family health advocate.

"I'm actually very appreciative of the statement," said Karen Herzog, co-founder of Sophia's Garden Foundation, an organization centered on helping families with children with life-threatening conditions.

"It's imperative that professional organizations like the AAP and the American Medical Association take a firm stand on patient- and family-centered care," she said. "We need to work in partnership to improve our health outcomes together.

Herzog's daughter died of a rare illness when she was 4 years old. Her family took ownership of her care to an uncommon degree.

"I actually recruited practitioners to work on her care team, both local and internationally. We wanted to assemble a team that incorporated many different disciplines and cultural values and different medical perspectives," Herzog said.

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