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How to Make the Most of your Visit with the Pediatrician

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This is a guest blog from Sheila Cason, MD. It was previously published on her site DrCason.org. Dr. Cason is a photographer, pediatrician, and mother of three. I have great respect for her advice and incredibly compassionate nature.

Photo by Brendan Riley, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Brendan Riley, Flickr Creative Commons

Whew! The morning is over and I’m at lunch, preparing for a busy afternoon.

With the ever increasing time crunch, pediatricians are forced to see more patients in less time. Often we are only given 10-15 minutes to get the history, do an exam, make a diagnosis, formulate a plan and then explain the directions to the family.

This may be fine if the chief complaint is ear pain. But what if it’s chronic abdominal pain? Or a seizure? Then it’s even more important to streamline the visit so we can help your child and you get some answers.

Here are some simple ways to make your visit go smoother and get what you need:

1. First off let me know if you are running late for another appointment. I try not to run late but it’s ineveitable sometimes. There have been times when I go into a room and the family is seething! It seems they missed an incredibly important meeting. If I can I will try to adjust the schedule and see you faster. Or I’ll just cut to the nitty gritty and get you out quickly.

2. Let your doctor know what you really want. If you really want antibiotics, you’re going to be mad when you spent all that time and didn’t get it. Let them know. Often I’ll compromise. If it’s viral and they really don’t need the antibiotics, I let them know. But if it’s a cold and it has been over a week and a half and it’s tough for them to return for a recheck, then I may give them a script to take with them. I give instructions to start only if the cold hasn’t resolved by two weeks. Surprisingly most people don’t abuse this and both parties are happy.

3. Prepare your child: Tell your child where they are going. If they are old enough then let them know exactly what we are going to do. Encourage the young ones and don’t threaten shots if they don’t behave! It scares them to death and then I have to spend a lot of extra time coaxing them to let me even come close.

4.Know your history: Often I have a grandparent come in and not know anything. We have to guess and muddle through the history. This can take a lot of time. If you can’t be there, write a note or give me a number that I can call to ask you some pointed questions.

5. Don’t have the doctor tackle every thing on the same day. If your complaint is ear pain and a cold then talking about your child’s short stature might be better addressed at their well check or another appointment. You’re only going to get frustrated that the doc is rushing you.

6. If you’re still not happy let the doctor know. Some people still look at me at the end of the visit, all worried. I know something is up. Most parents who have a child with 1. Headache: worry it’s a tumor 2. Bruises: worry it’s leukemia 3. Fever and a cough: worry it’s pneumonia. Because parents have told me their fears I have learned what bothers them. I can anticipate this and talk with them about it.

I hope this helps. I think that most people who are frustrated that the doc didn’t spend a lot of time with them, didn’t get what they needed. Communication is key! A pediatrician’s number one priority is making sure your child is healthy and you’re happy!

Do you have ways that make your visit go smoother and you get what you need?

Do you have tips for the doctor that will make the visit go smoother?