To read on Noah’s Dad website:
10 Qualities To Look For In A Pediatrician For Your Child With Down Syndrome
You may already have a pediatrician and hopefully they are the perfect fit for your family. However people sometimes ask “do I have to go to a special pediatrician for my baby with Down syndrome” and while the answer is ‘”no” there are some some qualities that are very important when choosing the best pediatrician for your child (special-needs or no special needs.)
I’ve also included some questions for you to ask your pediatrician under each quality to help you in your journey of choosing the best doctor for your child.
1. They MUST Listen To You.
You know your child best and if you think something is wrong there is a good chance there is. If you have a doctor that blows you off, this is a red flag. You want a pediatrician that listens to your concern and is willing to either spend the time necessary to help you understand why they believe testing isn’t necessary, or is willing to do the proper testing to rules your concern out. This means that you have to listen as well and if you get reassurance and education you have to let go of your concern for the time being.
The biggest concerns are the ones that keep you up at night worrying. I will often ask parents if we don’t do XYZ test will you be able to sleep at night. If they say no, there is a high likelihood that I will do more testing. I call it treating parents ? If it helps you sleep and feel better about your child, then let’s do it. Can I guarantee that your pediatrician will do that…no, but I urge you to let your pediatricians know what you are really worried about.
Let me use a common example (and one that we personally deal with) A lot of parents of children with Down syndrome have a fear of cancer. Our children will likely deal with congestion and fevers and typical stuff, but when it starts to happen frequently the cancer idea can often sprout in your head. Make sure to ask your pediatrician as this question can easily be answered and you can easily be reassured. Therefore you can sleep at night ?
If you are concerned about your child having cancer, here is one of the best thing you can ask your child’s pediatrician:
If I am concerned about something how do we best address those concerns, and if lab work or imaging is the only way to completely rule something out will you be willing to do that?
2. Comfortable Conversations
You have to feel comfortable talking with them and asking your questions because you will certainly have a few. Maybe even hundreds. If you are intimidated or fearful of asking questions you will most likely leave every visit a little dissatisfied and wishing you would have just asked that question you had in the back of your mind. One of the main purposes of a pediatrician is to answer parents’ questions, and if you don’t feel comfortable asking your pediatrician questions, you’re missing out. Even I have ran into a few doctors where I don’t feel comfortable asking all of my questions. I will also be the first one to volunteer that just as in the general population there are some not so nice doctors or ones with a little different personality.
You’ll have a gut feeling about this after your first visit. Trust your instincts and move on if you need to.
3. Time For Your Child
They must have time to spend with you during your visits. Five minutes will not be enough. In today’s busy private practice world time is becoming limited if a physician wants to keep their practice afloat. If they are busy and cannot take extra time for you, things may be missed or you will feel unsatisfied. They are the center of your care and will be coordinating various specialists. It will take time to look at the whole picture with your pediatrician.
Make sure they are willing to take extra time with you if necessary. I know the well child visits for Noah take about 30-45 minutes, and our pediatrician is patient with us and makes sure all of our care is in place and questions are answered.
To make the most of the time given you, make sure to come with your questions written down so you don’t forget. Here are a few important questions to ask your pediatrician:
- How many kids do you see in day?
- If I have a lot of questions or there are several issues that we need to talk about how do I schedule those appointments?
- Can I ask for a longer visit if necessary? (In my resident clinic we had certain patients that we had documented in their chart that they needed longer appointment times.)
They need to have some knowledge of Down syndrome as well as be willing to learn and research to expand that knowledge. They should adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics Health Guidelines for Children with Down Syndrome. Below you will find a copy of these guidelines, and I suggest printing them and bringing them with you on your first visit.
They should also be willing to learn new things and research the questions that you ask. There is exciting research being done by major universities for cognitive issues with Down syndrome and it is helpful if your doctor is helping your sort through that. You may have to take the first step by asking the question, but that should be enough to spark their interest.
If you have plans to use alternative medicine it would be a good idea to see how they feel about that and if they will answer questions for you. There are several supplements and such that you may decide to use. You will want a doctor that supports you, but you also wants one that tells you the truth. You want one willing to help you sort through information and use what is proven to be beneficial. I encourage you to listen to your doctor if they don’t think an alternative medicine would be beneficial and possibly even harmful. There are good alternative therapies, but there are also a lot of scams out there that are meant to take advantage of parents who have children with special needs. Trust your doctor over the internet.
Here are some questions to ask your pediatrician to help you get an idea of their knowledge about Down syndrome.
- What guidelines do you use to manage a child with Down syndrome?
- Do you have other patients with Down syndrome?
- How do you learn new information?
- Can I bring you articles or information that I find?
- How do you feel about alternative medicine or using supplementation
5. Easy to Contact
Communication is becoming harder in today’s private practice world. During the day you are usually able to talk to a person who will get your question to the doctor. At night there are various systems. One is a nurse line where they use a protocol to answer questions to determine what you need to do. Sometimes the doctor is paged and they return your phone call. In our clinic we have a doctor who actually answers the phone himself! It shocks me each time he picks up the phone. Each way is a good way, but it’s good to know before hand about how long you will wait to hear back from your pediatrician when you need to contact them.
You will probably have times when you need orders for things such as labs or therapies and it has to be easy to get this accomplished. You don’t want there to be a delay if it’s too hard to get a hold of your doctor to write orders.
Your child may end up on medications. Getting refills can sometimes be a hassle. Sometimes it’s just a phone call, other times the doctor may need to see the patient in person.
Here are a few questions to ask your pediatrician regarding your ability to contact them when needed.
- If I have a question during the day how does that work?
- What is your call system like at night?
- If I need orders for things such as therapies how do I go about getting those?
- If we need refills on medications how do I get this?
Your pediatrician must be encouraging. (…)