Guest Author - Gwenn Schurgin O´Keeffe, M.D. , F.A.A.P.
Many families have only a small sense of the full extent of the care their pediatrician can provide and end up using urgent care centers and emergency rooms for issue that their pediatrician could have helped them with, or spending many hours on-line trying to figure out who can help them with a problem they are facing with their child.
Pediatricians are trained in the complete child in sickness and wellness, and can help you negotiate the often complicated health care system should specialty care be needed. Here’s an A to Z guide of the myriad of areas your pediatrician is available to help you with:
a. Anticipatory Guidance (informing you and your child of what’s to come next)
b. Behavioral and psychological concerns – including ADHD, potty training, and discipline
c. Concerns of abuse or mistreatment
d. Drugs – use, abuse and supplements (prescription, recreational, vitamins, herbal)
e. Eating and feeding issue
f. Fever and sick symptoms - sore throats, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, ear aches, cough, and runny nose – and just about every sick symptom you can think of!
g. Growth and development
h. Hearing issues
i. Immunizations (shots)
j. Journal articles and web sites to help you learn more about your child’s condition
k. Kid-specific issues for all ages
l. Laceration repair and suture removal
m. Monitoring medical problems – new and chronic
n. Negotiating the world of specialists – including the ER
o. Orthopedic issues including injury treatment and sports participation
p. Puberty and sexuality issues and counseling
q. Queries about anything worrying you about your child
s. School issues and concerns
t. Travel advice
u. Use of drugs and other risk-taking behaviors of teens
v. Vision issues
w. Weight issues – too little, too much and eating disorders
x. X-ray ordering (including acute injuries!)
y. Your concerns about your child
z. Zeroing in on what’s really important – our kids!
It is equally important that your pediatrician’s office have the infrastructure to support the services important to the care of your children. Here are the main questions to ask when evaluating your current pediatrics group and in helping you find a new group should that be needed:
1. How far out do you need to call for an appointment for routine care?
2. If your child is sick, will you get seen timely or get phone advice? (Timely=within 24hours for most situations.)
3. What is the staff like – friendly, respectable, interacts well with your kids?
4. How does your doctor handle differences of opinion or times when you are very worried about an issue?
5. Are referrals handled expeditiously?
6. Do you leave visits feeling satisfied and heard? And, if not, do you feel comfortable raising your concerns with your doctor?
7. Is this office itself child-friendly with child-appropriate art-work on the walls and books and toys in the waiting and exam rooms?
8. Does your child like the doctor and staff?
9. What happens after-hours, weekends and holidays? Who is available to answer questions or see your child if a sickness or injury occurs?
10. Have you ever thought about changing groups? If so, address your concerns or begin researching options.
There are as many types of pediatricians and pediatric offices as there are colors in the rainbow. Ultimately, the goal is to have your child’s pediatrician be the first health professional you consult in a time of crisis and the person who helps you care for your total child.