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For Patients & Families | Overview

It’s natural to have a lot of questions about your child’s care. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive.

How do I make an appointment?

If your child has been diagnosed or referred to us with a gastrointestinal condition, the first step is to schedule an appointment with us by calling 617-355-6058. You can make an appointment, refill a prescription, leave a message for a nurse if you have a question, or speak with someone if you have an immediate concern.

What happens in a GI evaluation?

The initial GI evaluation could take one or two visits with one of our doctors. During the first visit, a doctor or advanced care provider (such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) will ask you and your child questions. Your child will have a physical exam. X-rays, blood tests, or other tests may be done at this first visit.

A dietitian or other members of the GI team may also see your child. The doctor or advanced care provider will talk with you about the results of the evaluation and make a plan for your child. This may include further testing. The results will be sent to your child's other doctors. Regular follow-up visits may be needed to see how your child is doing.

Your child will be seen by a gastroenterologist. Fellows, residents, medical students, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners may also see your child. The attending doctor manages all of your child's care and closely supervises the work of the residents, fellows, and the nurse practitioners.

  • A fellow is a licensed doctor who has completed training in pediatrics and is training in gastroenterology.
  • A resident is a licensed doctor with training in pediatrics.
  • Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are licensed advanced care providers who work with our physicians.

The nursing staff helps care for your child and teaches you about your child's illness. Nurses discuss your child's medicine and prepare you and your child for any tests. It is helpful to write down questions before you come for a visit. You can also call our providers or connect with us through the MyChildren’s Patient Portal with any questions about your child's visit, illness, or treatment.

How long will the visit take?

A first visit may take up to two or three hours. Follow-up visits take about 30 or 45 minutes. Plan to arrive 30 to 45 minutes before the time of your visit. This will give you enough time to park and register at the registration desk. Bring your parking ticket so it can be stamped for discount parking. Your child's visit may have to be rescheduled if you don't arrive on time.

How can I learn more about my child’s condition?

Your doctor and care team are the best source of information about your child’s condition, and they will provide you with information about your child’s diagnosis, specific tests, and procedures, as well as home care for your child. You can also find out more about your child’s condition on the conditions and treatments page or by using our site search to find your child’s specific condition, including common tests, treatments, and information about ongoing research and clinical trials.

Can you explain the billing process?

You can get more information about Boston Children’s billing and insurance policies.

How do I get a second opinion from the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition?

To request a second opinion from our team, please call 617-355-6058. All you need to give us is your child's name, date of birth, and insurance information — we'll take care of everything else. If you are unable to come for an in-person second opinion at one of our 12 locations, we offer an Online Second Opinion Program.

Our dedicated care coordinator will help you:

  • understand and coordinate all the required insurance information for your visit
  • collect all of your child's medical records and needed information from your pediatrician or other doctors
  • customize your appointment scheduling if you need to see multiple doctors
  • find appropriate lodging in Boston if you're traveling here for care

Our doctors, nurses, and clinical staff carefully review information we get from you and your doctors, including the medical record history, notes, and any test results related to the cause of your visit. This allows us to focus our time on your child and better coordinate your appointments with other specialists, if needed.

Our team will communicate with your pediatricians, primary care doctors, or referring gastroenterology specialists to coordinate your child’s ongoing care. After visiting with our team and hearing their opinion, you can choose to receive treatment from our specialists or your own doctor. Any notes or follow-up information from your visit can be shared with your referring doctors upon your request.

Watch: How can I encourage healthy eating habits for my child?

Licensed clinical nutrition specialist Carolina Ruiz-Valenzuela discusses the importance of a balanced, nutritious diet.

International patients

For families residing outside of the United States, please contact Boston Children's Global Services, which facilitates medical review of patient records and appointment scheduling and provides assistance with customs and immigration, transportation, and hotel and housing accommodations.