Give That Office a Checkup
Learn what matters, and what doesn't, in your pediatrician's practice.
- Doc's email and cell number: They're not as important as you'd think: You could end up playing phone tag. Plus, getting detailed advice via email may compromise confidentiality.
- Web presence: Many docs let you make appointments, ask nonurgent questions, and access records online. It's not necessary, but it sure can be helpful.
- Extended hours: This perk could help keep you out of the ER on a Sunday morning. Look for practices that stay open late and offer weekend hours.
- Well and sick waiting rooms: Good, in theory, but patients may flout the rules. Go for a doc who whisks infants into an exam room. For more office ins and outs, visit americanbaby.com/docsecrets.
What to Ask Any Potential Pediatrician
After you have referrals and search online, it's time for a go-see. Get answers from the doc to these questions.
- How do you keep current on medical practices? This is more telling than where she got her degree, according to Laura Jana, M.D., author of Heading Home With Your Newborn. See if the doctor regularly reads medical journals, stays on top of new policies from the AAP, and attends health conferences. Other reassuring signs: She works at a teaching hospital and often gives lectures or attends rounds.
- Which hospitals are you affiliated with? Once you know, find out if the doctor is in good standing there and if the institution has a pediatric ER.
- Will I be able to see you for all of our appointments? If you can't be sure you'll see your doc each time, it's smart to make sure that the other doctors in the practice have similar approaches and that they communicate with one another about patient care.
- How do you handle sick visits? Ideally, your doc has slots reserved daily for under-the-weather wee ones.
- What advice do you offer moms who nurse? If you plan to breastfeed, it's helpful to have a pediatrician who is on board and able to refer you to a qualified lactation consultant if you need one.
- What is your approach to antibiotics? A good answer is: "I prescribe them only as necessary." You're probing to make sure the doctor isn't too quick to dole out doses, which can lead to antibiotic resistance.