Published: Aug. 17, 2010
Updated: Aug. 17, 2010
The health care team of the Duke Children’s Heart Program has many members, all working together to provide the best possible care for your child and family. The roles of some team members are described below.
Pediatric cardiologist: Leader of the medical team. Diagnoses and treats congenital heart disease, performs tests and procedures such as catheterizations and echocardiograms, decides with the surgeon whether heart surgery is necessary, and provides care before and after heart surgery.
Pediatric electrophysiologist: A pediatric cardiology physician with additional training in the area of diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm problems in infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.
Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon: Leader of the surgical team. Decides with the pediatric cardiologist whether surgery is necessary and what surgery should be performed. Directs all aspects of the intraoperative care. Extensively involved in the care of patients after surgery, both as inpatients and outpatients.
Pediatric cardiac intensivist: Leader of your child’s care in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Specializes in the needs of acutely ill children. Works closely with the cardiologists and surgeons.
Neonatal intensivist: Provides comprehensive care for both premature and full-term infants who have neonatal problems. Special services offered in the intensive care nursery (ICN) include JET ventilation, nitric oxide, hypothermia, and comprehensive neonatal healthcare.
Pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist: Trained in handling cardiac-related anesthesiology for infants and children. Handles sedation for your child for cardiac surgery, cardiac catheterization, and electrophysiology (arrhythmia) studies. For children with complex heart disease, such as children with a functional single ventricle, the anesthesiologist will assist with the anesthesia for non-cardiac surgeries.
Pediatric nurse practitioner: Provides advanced nursing care. Works closely with physicians and jointly cares for the patients on the pediatric cardiology ward after heart surgery, as well as before and after heart catheterization and in the outpatient clinics.
Pediatric nurses: Provide expert nursing care in clinics, procedure areas, intensive care and general care units. They are present 24 hours a day, seven days a week to look after the patients.
Respiratory therapist: Helps treat and restore function for patients with heart and lung disorders. Performs duties such as testing for and treating lung abnormalities, and setting up and monitoring ventilator equipment.
Sonographer: Specially trained in cardiac ultrasound and congenital heart disease. Uses ultrasound equipment to examine the structure and function of the heart. During the echocardiogram, the sonographer places a small transducer on the chest at certain locations and angles. The transducer picks up the reflected sound waves and sends them to a computer. The computer interprets the echoes into an image of the heart walls and valves on a screen. The data is then given to a cardiologist to interpret and make a diagnosis.
Child life specialist: Supports children during stressful hospital experiences. Helps children overcome their fears and discomforts, as well as speed their recovery after various procedures.
Social worker: Supports children and families during stressful hospital experiences. Offers counseling and assists with lodging, finances, insurance, as well as providing information regarding resources near the patient’s home.
Nutritionist/registered dietitian: Assesses the dietary needs of children with heart problems and suggests diet changes. Helps with infant formulas and recipes for high calorie or other special formulas. Suggests diets for children with obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Patient resource manager: Works with you and the medical team to plan for you and your child's needs at home. Can arrange for visiting nurses and supplies or equipment as needed.