When To Call The Doctor

Most parents know right away when to take their child to a doctor. But there are times when there are grey areas and parents hesitate and decide to wait it out. Knowing what types of pediatrician visits are available will help you decide when to contact your child’s pediatrician.

Sick child visits
In a pediatrician’s office, there are two main types of sick visits for children--urgent and chronic. Urgent care is characterized as a sudden onset of illness in children. Examples include a high fever, vomiting, headaches and other discomfort felt by the child. These types of appointments are scheduled quickly so that the child can be seen right away.

Chronic care is the type is for children who need consistent medical care due to a medical condition such as juvenile diabetes. Although these visits are not urgent and not an emergency, they are vital to avoid the child’s condition from becoming a medical emergency. These visits are usually scheduled on a consistent and long-term basis.

Well child visits
These are visits that are set up to monitor your child’s development and overall health through a physical examination. During these visits children receive their immunizations and have their weight and height recorded. Additionally, the pediatrician will conduct tests such as hearing and vision to check for any abnormalities. It is important to catch any irregularities early on to help your child receive proper treatment to minimize any damage to their health and development. These checkups for newborns are vital to monitor the baby’s growth and health.

Time to call the pediatrician
Some parents may hesitate and wait until the morning before they call the doctor. They may feel silly calling the pediatrician over mild symptoms their child may be experiencing. Pediatricians know that they are not in the 9-5 workforce. They fully understand that they may be called at any time. Many pediatricians belong to a medical group and they rotate their “on call” shifts with the other doctors. Pediatricians who have a sole practice partner up with other pediatricians to cover each other in case they are on vacation or away for other reasons.

Often, “on call” pediatricians are busy calling back other patients so it is important to allow for the time to receive a phone call back. Obviously how long a parent should wait for a call back depends on the urgency of the situation. In an emergency situation it is best to take your child to the emergency department at the nearest hospital and have the emergency department staff contact your doctor as well.

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