Monday, May 11, 2009

Keeping It Pleasant and Positive with the Pediatrician!

Let's be honest: Pediatricians are busy people -and getting busier by the day- but taking the time to establish a good relationship with your child's doctor can have a huge impact on your child's health and well-being. Here are some ideas to help you keep the lines of communication open.


1. BE PHONE SAVVY

If you have a routine question that doesn't require an office visit or urgent care, find out when and how you should contact your pediatrician. Some doctors have special phone-in times, during which they, or a nurse/nurse practitioner, will answer questions about medications, minor illnesses, or behavioral issues, such as temper tantrums. Some doctors prefer to answer such questions through e-mail. If you want to speak to the pediatrician directly, call during office hours if possible. Be pleasant and polite not demanding.
During the phone call, be as detailed as possible about your child's symptoms (for example, "She has had a 101 temperature since yesterday and vomited twice last night"). Make sure you the doctor whether your child is taking any prescription or nonprescription medication, and remind her of any ongoing or past medical problems. Be ready to write down any instructions she gives you.

2. FOCUS!

Write down questions and concerns before any visit to a pediatrician's office and to bring them up soon after the doctor enters the examining room. Sometimes a pediatrician may ask you to make a separate appointment if she can't address all of your concerns in one visit. If the doctor is treating your child for an ear infection, she may ask you to return for a more in-depth evaluation of a potential speech or behavioral problem.
3. COMMUNICATE

The more information you give your pediatrician about your child and family, the more she can help you. Any trauma, drama, or new dynamic in the family, (a death, divorce, other disruption in your family, or if your child is going through a particularly rough time at school or at home) be sure to tell the doctor. If she can't help you with the problem herself, she may be able to refer you to a specialist or other resource who can.
4. KEEP IT REAL

Don't expect your doctor to be a "miracle worker." Many parents expect their pediatrician to prescribe antibiotics or other drugs when they're not necessary, and when a "wait-and-see" approach would often benefit the child's health. The bottom line is you have to have a pediatrician whose judgement you trust. If you're clearly uncomfortable with a specific diagnosis or treatment, seek a second opinion.

5. BE THOROUGH
Before leaving the pediatrician's office, be sure you fully understand any instructions the doctor has given you, particularly regarding lab tests, follow-up visits, or medications. Take notes in the exam room, if possible. If the doctor uses medical jargon, ask her to explain things to you in simpler terms. And be sure to let your doctor know if a prescribed medication isn't working, or if your child develops worsening or additional symptoms.
6. BE HONEST

Don't be afraid to give your pediatrician feedback about your office visit experience. Tell her if you felt rushed during the appointment, if the support staff was rude to you, or if you needed more information about a prescription or procedure. A good doctor will want to do her part to work with you and provide the best care possible for your child.

7. BE APPRECIATIVE

Like the rest of us, two little words - THANK YOU - go a long way. The negative feedback is often the loudest, so make sure if you had a good experiece - with the staff at the hospital or office - tell them! And let your doctor know you appreciate what they do and how they do it. A behavior acknowledge in a postive way is likely to be repeated....

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