The department provides specialist respiratory paediatric care for children across New Zealand with complex or severe lung problems. For the vast majority of children we see, this care is provided in conjunction with a local general paediatric specialist. We usually do not accept referrals from a general practitioner (GP), and require that a child has been initially assessed by a local general paediatrician. However, there are some circumstances that mean a direct referral from a GP is appropriate (e.g. if a child moves into the area with a known diagnosis of cystic fibrosis). If there is thought to be any unusual circumstances to bypass an initial general paediatrician referral the GP should write to the Respiratory Department setting out the previously established diagnosis.
Some of the reasons for referral to a respiratory paediatrician are listed below. Follow the associated links to kidshealth.org.nz for further information.
PLEASE NOTE: Frequent chest infections are very common in childhood, and usually do not mean a child has a serious underlying problem. Some symptoms are important however e.g.:
- coughing most days even when the child doesn’t have a temperature or runny nose
- regularly coughing up green or yellow sputum (phlegm or mucus)
- wheezing even when well, or wheezing that doesn’t go away after taking Ventolin
- exercise ability reduced by shortness of breath, when compared to others of the same age
- increasing shortness of breath over the last few weeks or months.
If your child has any of these symptoms, or if you are worried that your child may have a problem with their lungs, you should see your GP. He or she can then refer you to a paediatric specialist who can review your child more carefully, and perhaps perform some further tests. If the general paediatrician confirms a problem, or would like a second opinion, he/she can then refer your child to a specialist respiratory paediatrician.
Once your child’s referral is accepted, an appointment time will be sent directly to you. If the date offered is not suitable for you, please contact the clinic schedulers on the phone number given on the right, and arrange a different date. If you do not attend the appointment given without notifying us you will be offered one more appointment. If you don’t attend that second appointment you will be referred back to your local paediatrician, and no further appointments will be sent.
For urgent conditions your child may be admitted directly to hospital rather than waiting for a clinic appointment.
If you receive an appointment you will need to go to Outpatients on Level 3 of Starship Children's Hospital where your child will be assessed by specialised doctors. This usually takes an hour or two in total including additional tests done on the day.
Recommendations and options regarding your child's future treatment plan will be discussed with you. You should bring with you to the appointment:
- Any letters or reports from your doctor or another hospital
- Any X-Rays, CT or MRI films and reports
- All medicines your child is currently taking including herbal and natural remedies
- Your child's pharmaceutical entitlement card.
At the clinic you will be seen by either the consultant or the registrar, who will discuss your child with the consultant at the time, or after the clinic. If your child is old enough they may need to do some lung function tests before being seen by the doctors (see Procedures and Treatments below).