WASHINGTON • As the parent of a child with disabilities, Ms Jamie Davis Smith, a mother of four, is all too familiar with the ins and outs of seeing the doctors and seeking the best care possible for her daughter.
These are some of the things that she has learnt in getting better medical care for her three typically developing children as well - lessons that can help any child or parent.
Find a primary care provider you trust
It may be tempting to find a paediatrician you like and who is convenient, or to see the paediatrician your friends use and like.
But you need to be able to trust your doctor, so you will be able to turn to him for advice on anything from the best specialists to the correct course of treatment.
It may be easy to write off a paediatrician you think is just okay as long as your child is relatively healthy.
But you never know when a more serious health condition will come up.
Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion
This can be useful if you are not sure whether your doctor gave the right diagnosis, or just want some confirmation that you are on the right track with a treatment.
It can be as simple as having another paediatrician in the same office examine your child and talk to you. Or it may mean making another appointment elsewhere.
Keep medical records accessible
Scan your children's medical records and store them on Google Docs so you can access them on your phone anywhere, like the emergency room.
That antibiotic with the strange name your child just finished might be relevant to diagnosing a rash, or the strep throat she got weeks ago could be a clue to a new mysterious ailment.
Knowing which illnesses your child had when, which treatments or tests she received, and the names of all the doctors she has seen can be helpful.
Whether it is your child's first cold or you are looking at a more serious medical issue, chances are you have questions for the doctor.
Often the answers will help assuage fears or ensure that you are following the doctor's orders correctly, leading to a better outcome.
Do your own research
Some doctors advise against consulting Dr Google.
While online searches can lead to scary information that may not be relevant to your child, they may also lead to finding out about children who have had similar illnesses or provide you with additional information that you can ask your doctor about later.
Doctors know a lot and parents need to trust their expertise.
But do not be afraid to seek additional information.
Whether you are having a problem getting an appointment, disputing a bill or missing a medical form, you should ask for help.
Most hospitals have a patient advocate - although they sometimes go by different titles - and most doctor's offices have an office manager who can help.
You know your child best
It can take work to get a doctor to pay attention to the subtle signs that are only evident to parents, but you know when your child is sick or in pain, even if they appear okay to others.
Most childhood illnesses run their course quickly. While children may be uncomfortable, worrying does not help. Instead, focus on making your child as comfortable as possible while the illness runs its course.