When you first enter the world of congenital cardiac care it can be very difficult to know who everyone is and what they do.

In this section we hope to help you understand a little more about the people you might meet from the time a baby is diagnosed with a complex heart condition onwards.

Antenatal team

The antenatal team is usually made up of a number of obstetric (pregnancy) and cardiac staff.

Midwife

The nurse specially trained to help with the pregnancy and delivery of the baby.

Obstetrician

The pregnancy and delivery doctor.

Sonographer

The member of staff who performs the ultrasound scan on mothers to look at the baby.

Fetal obstetrician

A doctor who specialises in looking at a baby before they are born, especially if there are problems with the way that the baby is developing. They will look at all parts of the baby and offer other tests if they detect any problems before birth.

Fetal cardiologist

A cardiac doctor who specialises in looking at heart problems in an unborn baby. They may also be a children’s cardiologist who looks after children with a heart condition. They will explain any problems with the baby’s heart and set out the treatment plan available to treat any condition.

Fetal midwife

A nurse who will help parents understand an antenatal diagnosis, plan tests and link families with local and specialist maternity services.

Congenital cardiac specialist nurse

A nurse who specialises in supporting and informing families about the cardiac diagnosis and treatments. They provide a link from the obstetric team to the cardiac team.

Congenital cardiac team

Congenital cardiologist

The doctor who makes a diagnosis of congenital heart conditions and then looks after the child or adult patient throughout their life. They organise tests and see patients both in the hospital and at outpatient appointments. They also prescribe medications. Some cardiologists do interventional cardiac procedures (not surgery) during cardiac catheterisation, for example, closing off small holes in the heart.

Congenital cardiac surgeon

A doctor who offers surgical solutions to children and adults who have a congenital heart condition. They manage the care of a child if they are admitted to hospital for an operation.

Congenital cardiac specialist nurse

A nurse who has extra training and experience in looking after children and / or adults with congenital heart conditions.

Congenital cardiac ward nurse

A cardiac nurse who looks after a child or adult who has been admitted to the hospital to undergo tests or treatment for a congenital cardiac condition.

Anaesthetist

A doctor who is responsible for keeping a child or adult asleep when they undergo certain tests or surgery.

Intensivist

A special doctor who treats and observes a child or adult whilst they are in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

PICU/ITU (Paediatric Intensive Care/Intensive Therapy Unit) nurse

A nurse with special training to look after a very sick child or adult in the intensive care ward.

HDU (High Dependency Unit) nurse

A nurse with special training to look after a child or adult who needs high dependency care. This is a step of care between intensive care and general care and usually takes place on a High Dependency Ward or a specially equipped area of a cardiac ward.

Sonographer and/or cardiac technician

Specially trained staff who work with cardiologists to undertake medical tests like echos (heart scans) or ECGs (recordings of the heart rhythm).

Psychologist

Specially trained staff who can help with the stress and strain that can be created when a child has a complex heart condition, for example, fear of being in the hospital or fear of needles.

Dietitian

An expert in knowing what food and drink is needed to keep healthy. They provide very important support for families learning how to help their children grow and thrive. Some children are referred to a Speech and Language Specialist for added help with feeding as they specialise in how the mouth and throat work.

Hospital social worker

A member of staff trained to support parents, families and patients with the social care they may need when they leave hospital. They can help with allowances and benefits.

Play specialist

Helps children recover from operations or prepare for treatment by encouraging activity and fun play. They are based in the ward or play department.

Updated: June 2017

Review due: June 2017

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