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Time to Break Up?
Most of the time, your doctor is a pillar of knowledge when it comes to all things medical, the calmer of fears, the healer of sore throats and the sounding board for neurotic parents everywhere. So it can be a serious drag when your doctor isn't living up to your expectations with you or with your child. If you don't feel comfortable with your doc, it's time to dump her for a better fit. So, what are the signs of a bad doctor? Compare yours to see if she makes the cut—or if you should start auditioning new pediatricians, stat!
A Poor Office Atmosphere
Doctor's offices are busy places, but they should never forget the most important person: the patient. If your doc is notoriously hard to snag an appointment with, she keeps you waiting well past your appointment time or her staff is downright disrespectful, it might be time to check out other offices. While they're completely necessary, doctor's offices are still businesses and should respect patients as paying customers.
Does your doctor sit down and listen intently, or does it seem like her mind is wandering? Impatient practitioners can make you feel like your health concern isn't important or as though they're completely inconvenienced by your presence. Whether you're there because your toddler has a sore throat or your kid hasn't been feeling himself lately, a good doctor sits, makes eye contact, asks questions, and above all, listens to your answers to work out a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Does your doc poke her hands in your child's mouth sans gloves or without washing before and after? It's a major red flag that safety and hygiene practices probably aren't being observed in her office. Check out your surroundings: are the exam rooms clean? Do the nurses and assistants observe safety and hygiene rules? Are there covers placed over the otoscope before it's placed in your child's ear? When a doctor or her staff blatantly skips out on hygiene protocol, it's time to kick her to the curb.
Bad Bedside Manner
OK, so lots of kids hate the doctor, but your child's screams could be an indicator to more than just a fear of needles. While not every doctor has the magic touch that eases a kid's anxiety, your child shouldn't be overly frightened of your doctor's presence. If the mere sight of your pediatrician causes tears, she might have a rough bedside manner that frightens your little one. And, since you definitely don't want your kid to be afraid of medical staff, it might be time to take your leave.
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No Second Opinions
One of the best benefits of the medical field is the tightly knit community that results in idea-sharing and referrals between docs. Unfortunately, some doctors are less-than-thrilled to bring another expert or specialist on the scene. A good doctor finds the correct diagnosis and treatment, no matter which office gets the business. But a danger doc keeps everything in-house, even if your child's issue isn't really her specialty.
While the common cold only lasts a few days, more serious issues can mean endless appointments for your little one. Pediatricians can't cure chronic illness, but they should be able to define and treat the symptoms. If weeks of talking to your doc hasn't yielded any results, trust your parental intuition and head out the door.
Making the Switch
If you've decided that it's time to switch to a different health care provider, breaking up with your bad doctor can be as awkward as breaking up with your high school sweetheart. Read on for our tips to ease the transition.
The best way to find a new doctor? Ask your friends. Anyone with kids will have opinions on the different pediatricians in your area. Check out a few before you make the commitment, and make sure that the offices are taking new patients before you make the switch.
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Once you've ensured the new office will accept your insurance, it's completely kosher to go for a test drive with a new pediatrician. Simply schedule an initial checkup for your little one and see what you think. Find a doctor that is attentive, gentle, knowledgeable, respectful and cooperative and you've hit the pediatrician jackpot!
Give your pediatrician's office a call and ask that they transfer records over to your new office. They'll likely ask why you're making the switch, and you can simply say that you feel a different doctor is a better fit for your kid. If you get a chance to chat with your old pediatrician, it's fine to let her know that you weren't impressed by the office staff or that your child preferred a gentler bedside manner.
Healthy Kid, Healthy You
Your child's pediatrician makes up a big part of your life for the first few years, so there's no reason to suffer through awkward appointments if you don't have to. As a patient, the choice is yours to switch things up and change your cranky or dismissive doc for a newer model. As a parent, you don't need any more stress in your life than you already have; don't let health care leave you feeling frazzled too.