Transitioning from Pediatric Urology to Adult Care

April 01,2021 |

Pediatric urology involves the diagnosis, care, and treatment of urologic conditions in young children. Pediatric urologists focus on children’s urinary and genital problems in addition to any congenital disorders that affect the two systems. If your child is suffering from a voiding disorder, vesicoureteral reflux, spina bifida, neurological condition, or requires surgery for anything within the urinary tract system or male reproductive system, a pediatric urologist is the best option. During this time, your child will continue to see their pediatric urologist as a part of an ongoing treatment plan. If their condition is lifelong, or requires long-term care, eventually they’re going to need to see a urologist who specializes in adult anatomy. This change can be scary to children or make them feel anxious or nervous, but it doesn’t have to. Here are some tips regarding transitioning from pediatric urology to adult care.

The Importance of Transitioning to Adult Urologic Care

As a child grows, their body changes. Puberty introduces awareness of reproductive systems and certain medical problems change. Pediatric urologists are within a specialty that focus on children’s urinary and reproductive system up to early teen years, or when they begin going through puberty. Their primary focus is on urologic health issues that are found in children and they therefore work to treat these conditions as needed. As a child grows, urologic issues change with their body and require the attention of a urologist who specializes in adults. Not only this, but many hospitals have age limits for specified care under a pediatrician or pediatric doctor. At the end of the day, we all age and to make sure that your child is getting the best treatment possible, they need to transition into appropriate care.

When to Begin Planning for Transition

Urologists and hospitals likely have an age limit in which they cease caring for pediatric patients. Discuss this with your current care provider to properly begin planning a stress-free transition. As a rule of thumb, begin discussing the change and looking at your options when your child is around 11 or 12. While this may seem early, it’s a good way to help make sure your child is comfortable before the transition occurs. Some families can wait until their children are 14-16. In certain cases where both the hospital and urologist don’t have restrictions, transition may not happen until your child officially becomes an adult at 18. Again, since this transition often works better when done slowly over time, it’s good to at least begin the process at an earlier age.

How to Transition from Pediatric Urology to Adult Care

When it comes time to finally begin the transition of care, take your time. Ongoing urologic conditions or long-term care regimens aren’t going to be learned overnight. While your child will still be supported during this process, have patience and continue to help as needed. The transition is a multi-faceted process. Your child will switch from a pediatric urologist to an adult urologist and will begin to learn more about how to care for themselves in the process.

Communicate Openly

If your child has been with the same pediatric urologist for years, they may start to feel nervous about transitioning to adult care. To help ease their anxiety, be open with them. Communicate from an early stage and make sure that you involve them in the process. Sharing personal issues or undergoing further urology tests with an entirely new set of people is intimidating, but by working as a team you can make the situation less scary.

Whenever you meet a new potential urologist or specialist, schedule some time to speak with them prior to introducing your child. Ask them any questions you have and make sure you feel comfortable with them. It might take some time to find the right match, but it’s worth the effort. Once you’ve found a few that you like, introduce your child to them so that they can be involved in the decision. This is going to be their adult urologist, so while it may be tempting to choose for them, involving them is going to lead to the best long-term outcome. Begin this search with recommendations from your pediatric urologist, pediatrician, support groups, or even in-network Google searches.

Gather Medical Records

As your child’s primary care giver, you’ve likely been keeping extensive records on everything going on regarding their urologic disease or condition. Gather all of your personal records and discuss transferring health history and medical records from your child’s pediatric urologist to their new team. With increasing amounts of history and medical records kept online, this becomes a little easier. However, you’ll still want to bring this up early to give your pediatric team time to gather anything and everything that will help maintain care moving forward.

For the most comprehensive medical records, gather your child’s family history from both parents. This allows adult urologists to better see the whole picture and provide the best care possible.

Encourage Independence in Your Children

If you begin the transition process early on, start to encourage independence in your children in other areas of life. By slowly giving your child more responsibilities through chores, you can help them understand the importance of caring for themselves and contributing to family care.

While a 12-year-old won’t likely be making their own appointments yet, it’s a good idea to include them in processes directly related to their condition as early as possible. Show them how to schedule appointments through a portal or on the phone and discuss the importance of managing their medicine properly. There are plenty of products that can help increase convenience for medication reminders and timing. The small steps that you take now will help them build up the skills they need later in life when they become fully independent. Doing so will also help your children understand the importance of having a urologist and build confidence when speaking with their medical team.

Understand Insurance Changes

Different insurance policies include different coverage and doctors. If your current pediatric urologist is in-network, make sure that you understand which adult urologists or specialists are also in-network to avoid high out of pocket costs. If you currently have a family plan, confirm the parameters and know when child coverage ends.

Respect Privacy

As your child becomes a teenager, you’re going to need to learn to respect their privacy. Teenagers are already going through a major hormonal change and if they have to deal with other medical issues as well, this can create a barrier between them and well-intentioned parents. Try to help encourage independence before these sensitive years so that you can feel comfortable and confident that your teenager understands what they need to do to take care of themselves. During urologist visits, stay in the waiting room unless they ask for your presence. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to talk about sexuality and sexual functions with your mom or dad in the room.

Consider a Specialist

If your child has a rare urologic disease or complex condition, talk to your pediatric urologist about the benefits of finding a specialist. This is a good way to ensure that treatment plans and care are specifically tailored to your child’s condition and will therefore result in more successful long-term results. Some conditions that may require a specialist include lifelong conditions affecting sexual function, chronic kidney diseases, congenital kidney or bladder diseases, neurogenic bladder, hypospadias, exstrophy, and more. Begin the search for a specialist with referrals and make sure that you find someone who is in a comfortable proximity to your home.

While the process of transitioning from pediatric urology to adult care can be straightforward for some, it’s not always the case. Parents with children suffering from congenital urologic diseases or those that have been diagnosed with long-term issues requiring ongoing care may need some additional help. Due to this need, transitional clinics and hospital programs have become an option. These programs aim to help make the transition from pediatric to adult care as smooth as possible. They work to help children gain more independence regarding their condition and general health care. To learn more about your options regarding these types of clinics, search for pediatric transition of care programs near you.

Regardless of if you were diagnosed with a urologic condition as a child, adolescent, or adult, Byram Healthcare has the products and support you need to live a happy, healthy life. Our mission is to help improve health outcomes and affordability of care for people living with chronic diseases.