Got Germs?

The Doctor's Office

Germy Zone: Your Pediatrician's Waiting Room

Don't be fooled by the antiseptic smell. With all the sick little patients (especially during cold and flu season), the waiting room is a virtual petri dish. Then there's your busy doctor: If he forgets to wash his hands after seeing each patient, he could transmit viruses to your child.

Stay safe: Have your child wash her hands before going to the doctor so she'll be less likely to pass along a bug to other kids. If she's just getting a checkup, ask whether there's a well-child waiting area (where the germ load is probably a lot lower). Take along your own toys and books so she isn't tempted to play with communal ones. "The last thing you want is for your healthy child to contract an illness at the doctor's office," Dr. Nowalk. It's also perfectly acceptable to ask the doctor and the nurse whether they've washed their hands before they touch your child. "It's smart, not rude," says Dr. Nowalk. "I wish parents asked me more often."

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