PART 4: KEEPING YOUR CHILD HEALTHY
CHOOSING A PAEDIATRICIAN
In days gone by, most children were looked after by the
family physician. Even today, some lucky parents have a doctor whom they can rely on for most day-to-day childhood
But most others need to have their children seen
regularly by a paediatrician (a child specialist).
Only The Best For Your Child
Ask your family doctor to refer you to a good
paediatrician ó ideally one located close to your residence. Your obstetrician
is another source for reference. A close relative,
friend or neighbour may also be able to refer you to a good paediatrician.
Ask other parents who go to the same doctor whether she meets these qualifications:
- She is competent. She spends enough time with parents and children, especially on the first visit.
- She is a good listener.
- She does not ask for unnecessary investigations and does not prescribe too many drugs. She may even decide to try the no-medication option.
- She is available for emergencies or makes alternative arrangements in advance.
- She is fond of children and treats a child as her own or as a grandchild.
- Children seem comfortable with her.
- She does not seem to be in the profession only for financial gain.
- She is known to ask for or get a second opinion if required.
- She empowers parents to manage day-to-day problems.
Help Your Doctor Help You
Go prepared when you visit the paediatrician. Provide
her with the full history of your childís present illness
and complaints. Be ready with the record of her past
illnesses and family history, especially if you are consulting the doctor for
the first time. If you are likely to forget, write down
the details and hand over the same for her perusal. Put the
child into loose clothing; this will help the doctor make a
As far as possible, go by appointment to meet your paediatrician. If you need to see her the same day, be
ready to wait your turn. If your child is too sick to wait, take
her to the doctorís assistant in the hospital to which she is attached. The
assistant can then talk to the paediatrician and decide
if the child needs hospitalisation.
If this is not practical, request your paediatrician to accommodate you. If your child really needs urgent
attention, she will attend to her and request another patient with
a prior appointment to wait.
Even if you have a fixed appointment, do not insist on
being seen on the dot. It is possible that the previous
patient needs extra attention or that the doctor has to accommodate an emergency. You would like your child to receive the
same consideration when she is ill.
Be silent while the doctor writes the prescription; it
is crucial that she gets it right the first time. Your
silence will help her focus and concentrate.
If you have to telephone the doctor for advice, try to call her in her consulting rooms. This will allow
her access to your childís records if she needs them.
Before you ring your paediatricianís number, keep a paper and pencil handy.
Barring an emergency, avoid ringing the doctor at her home. Remember that she also needs time to herself.
Your doctor would ideally like to examine your child
before starting any drugs, especially antibiotics. Do not self medicate before talking to your paediatrician. Also, do not
repeat a previous prescription without consultation even if the symptoms seem to be the same.
Give medication at the prescribed intervals ó if you cannot, tell the doctor so, she may suggest an
Your Paediatrician And You
Treat your paediatrician with respect, but donít
expect miracles from her or that your child will be made well
as soon as she sees the doctor.
Also remember that doctors are human. They have their moods, they can get tired and
annoyed. Look instead at
your paediatricianís overall performance and be ready to
forgive an occasional lapse.
11 February, 2013