I’m not a particularly anxious mom, but an experience I had with my 6-year-old daughter’s pediatrician a few weeks ago spurred me to change doctors. I know it’s easy for moms to over-react to our children’s illnesses, because we’re often the sole household decision makers when it comes to health care. However, I had good reasons for switching doctors:
Poor Gracie had a 103 degree fever and had been coughing so hard she almost threw up every time. When I called her doctor’s office, the nurse said to bring Gracie in. My only previous experience with this new doctor had been a brief well-child exam several months earlier, because we’re new to the city.
The first bad sign during the visit was the long wait. Of course, sometimes that’s unavoidable, but it wasn’t as if the waiting room was crowded. For most of the time, there were no other patients waiting there.
When we got into the examining room, there was another long wait before the nurse came back to take Gracie’s vital signs. Gracie was curled up on the examining table like a little shrimp, and I was bathing her forehead with a wet paper towel. I felt really alone after the nurse left again. After that, a medical assistant came in and took Gracie’s history (which I had already given them during the previous checkup) and asked questions about her current symptoms. By this time, I really wanted to see the doctor, because Grace had a history of asthma and her coughing had me very worried.
Finally, an hour and 10 minutes after we had arrived, the doctor showed up. He spent a total of 8 minutes in the room with us, and he almost never spoke directly to Gracie. He asked me a couple questions, and when I tried to answer them, he cut me off after a few words. He examined Gracie in a really fast, casual way and then he went over to type into his computer.
When I asked him whether it could be whooping cough, he said, “Probably not,” and didn’t even look up or explain his thinking. He just didn’t seem concerned, and all he did was write her a prescription for basic cough medicine.
As it turned out, we ended up in the emergency room that same night because she could barely breathe. They diagnosed whooping cough right away, even though she had been vaccinated.
Needless to say, as soon as she was feeling better I found a different pediatric practice that was accepting new patients. I decided that the bottom line for our family was having a pediatrician whom I trusted to care enough to find out what’s really going on with my child’s health. I want a doctor who will treat my daughter – and me – as important people, and who will truly listen to us both when we come in for a visit.
I now have found a doctor who does all those things, and I can’t even describe how relieved I feel.
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