Finding Dr Right
Finding the right paediatrician for you can take some time and effort, says Camilla Rankin, who spoke to Dr Jess Meddows-taylor
FINDING A DOCTOR that you like and trust is vital – after all, you are likely to go through thick and thin with this person. General practitioner and mom to three young girls, Dr Jess Meddows-taylor, shares her views on finding Dr Right.
WHEN IT’S A CHOICE
Most babies will be seen within a few days of birth by the paediatrician who is on duty at the hospital or birthing clinic where they were born, and for the most part parents tend to stick with this doctor for good. But like any relationship forged in the heat of the moment, this is not enough of a reason to be loyal and stick it out if you are unhappy. As Dr Jess says, “Unless the baby is born with any specific medical problems where it is important to have a doctor that has been involved from the start, then make a clean break and go to the paed or GP that you had researched before your baby was born.”
LOOKING FOR DR RIGHT
1If you have a family doctor or GP already, then ask them to refer you to a paed with whom they work closely. It is much more time- and cost-efficient to visit your GP first, who if necessary will refer you to a paediatrician. It is also usually easier to get an appointment with a GP, and often if you do need a paed appointment, you are likely to be taken more seriously if you tell them you have been referred by your GP.
2Look for a paed that is based at a hospital near you – you don’t want to be driving forty minutes with a sick and wailing child, or turned away because your paed is not based there.
3Speak to friends and family about the paeds they use and love, and why. Be sure to ask about waiting times and his or her availability after hours or in an emergency.
4Look for a paed whose partner at the practice you also like. This way there is always a doc if you need one.
5Find out if the doctor has a specific specialty, if so, ask if they can refer UNLESS THE BABY IS BORN WITH ANY SPECIFIC MEDICAL PROBLEMS WHERE IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A DOCTOR THAT HAS BEEN INVOLVED FROM THE START, THEN MAKE A CLEAN BREAK AND GO TO THE PAED OR GP THAT YOU HAD RESEARCHED BEFORE YOUR BABY WAS BORN you to a general paed. Many specialist paeds prioritise the patients that fall into their speciality, understandably, leaving more general cases to wait.
6Most importantly, interview a number of paeds before your baby arrives. Dr Jess points out: “Your doctor needs to be approachable, available, you need to agree with their practice and philosophy and you need to connect with them and their particular bedside manner.” These issues can only be assessed in person. For the most part, go with your gut.
MAKING THE BREAK
It is important to remember that once you have chosen a paed, you are not bound to that person forever. You are entitled to get a second (third, or even fourth) opinion. “Medicine is a subjective science,” explains Dr Jess, “and there is never only one way of managing a medical situation. You can look for alternatives and try different doctors.” If the relationship is not working, you can leave. If you do leave, you are entitled to the pertinent information in your file, although not the file itself, because it belongs to the doctor. YB