Go behind the scenes with your child's doctor to see what she is really thinking.
1. Want to avoid the wait? Schedule your appointment for the middle of the week, and ask for the first time slot of the morning or right after lunch.
2. Even though studies show that antibiotics for ear infections are rarely better than watching and waiting for kids over age two, many of us prescribe them anyway. We want to feel like we're doing something. If I prescribe an antibiotic and a few days later your child feels better, I look like a genius.
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3. Don't ask if I'll take a "quick look" at the sibling who doesn't have an appointment. If your mom went with you to the gynecologist, would you ever say, "Doc, would you mind putting her on the table and giving her a quick look?" Every patient deserves a full evaluation.
4. Sometimes we have less than ten minutes per patient, so make the most of your time and ask about the most pressing problems first. If you have a lot of questions, request an extra-long appointment.
5. Even though I tell you to let your baby cry himself back to sleep once he's older, don't ask me if I always followed that advice with my own kids. I didn't.
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6. If you have an urgent concern and the front desk tells you there are no appointments available, ask for a nurse and explain your situation. Often she can work you in even if the schedule indicates there's no time.
7. Don't delay treating your child because you want me to see the symptoms. People do this a lot: "I didn't give him Tylenol, because I wanted you to feel the fever." "I didn't use the nebulizer, because I wanted you to hear the wheezing." Trust me, I will believe you that the child had a fever or was wheezing. Delaying the treatment only makes your child suffer.
8. Sure, we have a "sick" waiting room and a "well" waiting room, but no studies show it really makes a difference. Germs are everywhere, and we can't disinfect after each patient. My advice? Bring your own toys, and if your child touches anything, give him a hit of hand sanitizer.
9. Don't tell your kid the doctor will give him a shot if he doesn't behave. I won't.
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10. Insurance companies won't pay us to check complex problems at a well visit. So if your child has been complaining of headaches for months, I may tell you to make another appointment. I literally won't get paid if I investigate the headaches while you're here.
11. Pediatricians are among the lowest-paid doctors, making half as much as many specialists. We get pooped, peed, and thrown up on - and worse. But we love helping kids, and that's why we do it.
Sources: Pediatricians David L. Hill, MD, in Wilmington, North Carolina; Robert Lindeman, MD, in Framingham, Massachusetts; Allison Fabian, DO, in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Amanda Moran, MD, in Charlotte, North Carolina; Roy Benaroch, MD, author of A Guide to Getting the Best Health Care for Your Child; and a pediatrician in Virginia who preferred not to be named.