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Choosing a pediatrician -- what matters most?
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Andrew Adesman, MD posted:
What matters most in choosing a pediatrician?

It would be wonderful if every pediatrician had the bedside manner of Dr. Marcus Welby, the knowledge of Dr. Benjamin Spock, and the gift for connecting with babies of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. Although that may be a pretty tall order (for those of you who are familiar with all of these iconic physicians), I suspect many pediatricians indeed aspire toward this goal. To raise the bar even higher, the perfect pediatrician would also see his scheduled patients on time, return all of your phone calls promptly, and of course, accept your insurance plan and be easy to schedule an appointment with.

Assuming many pediatricians may not fulfill all of these criteria, what matters most in choosing a pediatrician? Expertise, compassion, flexibility, empathy, punctuality, access, availability? In what areas are you willing to compromise?

Does the perfect pediatrician accept all of your suggestions? What if there is a differnce of opinion -- does the perfect pediatrician accede to your wishes or hold his or her ground? Should they simply respect your view and accept the difference in judgment, or should they try to convince you that their treatment approach is more sound?

In short, what matters most when you can't get it all in one doctor? Where do you compromise when you can't find the perfect pediatrician?
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An_221974 responded:
Great question. I love my toddler son's pedi for so many reasons, but the biggest one is is availability and compassion. Several months ago, my son was seen at the urgent care center on a Saturday with stomach pain. We were transferred to the ER after they weren't satisfied with the xrays. After 8 hours of poking and proding and tests, we were released with a diagnosis of urinary tract infection and sent home with instructions to return the next day to the ER for another shot.

My pedi checked his reports on Sunday morning, saw we were in UC and called first thing Sunday to see how he was doing. He spent the morning calling for his test results from the ER and consulting with each of the docs we saw the day prior. He told me I didn't need to bring him in for more shots and would see me the following day at the office. We're still not sure what was wrong with him that day, but at least we didn't have to go back to the ER and he was perfectly fine after that.

We don't always see eye to eye - he's a little more conservative in his approach (i.e. we had about 7 ear infections before we were referred to the ENT, and while I originally wish it had been sooner, I ended up deciding against the tubes since it's now been 3 months since he's had an infection - so maybe he was right all along!). But I wouldn't give up the personal attention we get from him for a yes man who agreed with everything I said.

His compassion and attention to his patients is unmatched - which is probably why he was named Physician of the Year at his local practice. Nobody goes above and beyond more than him.
 
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Louise_WebMD_Staff responded:
My kids didn't have a pediatrician at all until we moved to Florida with a nearly 5 year old, nearly 3 year old and soon to be infant. Before that, we used family practice doctors which I really preferred in a way.

The pediatrician in Florida was recommended by a coworker of my husband. The practice was huge but you generally ended up seeing the NP instead of the pediatrician for anything other than a physical. My kids are generally healthy and so I never really obsessed about "the right pediatrician."

Now what I look for in a doctor: online records, ability to schedule appointments online, some level of email access, one who won't freak out because I work at WebMD, and a willingness to listen.

No, the perfect pediatrician doesn't take all of my suggestions. My now 14-year-old didn't talk until just shy of her 2-year-birthday. I worried. She had had some ear infections. (Ironically, she was breastfed and her brother who has never had an ear infection was formula fed) My sister is partially deaf from repeated ear infections as a child. I obsessed that my child didn't talk--not even a little bit. I was sure there was something wrong. Our doctor said stop worrying, keep talking to her the way you do, and we will reevaluate at her 2 year check up. I had my list of questions drawn up for her 2 year check up. At the top: She still doesn't talk. A week before her appointment she started talking--sentences--and hasn't stopped since. Would that have changed if I had spent time, energy and money running her to every specialist in the city? Most likely not. I just would have had more to fuss about.

On the other hand, I do want to have doctors who will talk to me about a question and explain why they recommend what they recommend.
 
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Jennax907 responded:
Being a wife of a physician it was really important that not only I liked my child's doctor, but my husband did too. We finally found one that I (we) truely adore. Not only does he meet the above stated requirements, he goes above and beyond his duties to make sure my child is taken care of. I also like that he doesn't baby talk to my child, he's not an over-reactive/ aggresive physician, he's experienced, he has children, and he respects my concerns. The list goes on....

And I was actually on the same flight as him when the flight attendant asked if there was a physician on board. Well, my hubby and him stood up to help a girl that was bleeding from her mouth. This doctor didn't have to help. He could have just stayed in his seat...he was on vacation...but he didn't. I knew right then and there we found the right doctor to oversee our child's care.
 
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Andrew Adesman, MD replied to Jennax907's response:
Its wonderful that you found a doctor that fulfills all of your criteria.

What about other parents? Where are they willing to compromise? If a parent has left one pediatrician for another, what was unacceptable or unforgivable about the first pediatrician?


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