As soon as you bring your first child home from the hospital, your mind might be buzzing with ways to keep that precious little one safe. In addition to baby-proofing your home and keeping all the essentials on hand, you might also be wondering if the pediatrician you chose in the hospital will work for you. Here are two things you should ask your new baby's pediatrician and how those answers could affect your first-time parenting experience:
1: "Does your office offer after-hours care?"
If your child is going to get a high fever or start vomiting uncontrollably, it might happen at an inconvenient time—like the middle of the night. Unfortunately, if you are a first-time parent, sudden illnesses can be terrifying and expensive. If you take your baby to the emergency room, you might end up waiting forever and racking up a steep bill—which might seem pointless if your child has a common ailment. Fortunately, some pediatricians offer incredible after-hours care, such as the following:
- On Call Physicians: Ask whether or not your doctor's office has a physician on-call around the clock. Also, ask if the doctors work in tandem with other offices or if the physicians that you commonly see will be answering the phone. If you can't reach someone with access to your child's medical history, that after-hours phone call might not be much help.
- 24/7 Nurse Hotline: If you don't like the idea of bothering your child's busy pediatrician during their free time, ask your child's doctor if their office offers a 24/7 nurse hotline. Some offices staff nurses overnight to field calls about injuries, illnesses, and common symptoms—so you can decide whether or not to seek emergency help or wait until the morning.
- Weekend Appointments: Don't worry about your child getting sick on the weekend. Some offices offer Saturday and Sunday appointments, so that you don't have to wait until Monday to start your child on the right medication.
If you are worried about spending a lot of money on excellent after-hours care, you shouldn't be. Research has shown that patients treated in after-hours clinics tend to spend around $236 less on their appointments than patients who go straight to the emergency room. Also, since most pediatricians' offices are less busy after hours than emergency rooms are, you might be able to save a little time. Studies have also shown that parents who take advantage of after-hours visits save around 81.2 minutes when compared to visiting the emergency room—which means that you can get your sick little one home a little sooner.
2: "How is your website?"
If you are like most people, you might check those symptoms online before freaking out and calling your child's doctor. However, to avoid being misinformed, ask your child's pediatrician if they have a functional, active website. Here are a few things you should look for:
- Medication Dosage Guides: To keep you from giving your little one too much medication, some doctor's offices offer easy-to-reference medication dosage guides complete with common medications. This feature makes it easy to medicate your child, even if you lost the original packaging or the medicine dropper that came with the syrup.
- Updated Pediatrics Information: Ask if the website is updated with current pediatrics information, such as recent outbreaks, mandates from the government, or changes in vaccinations.
If possible, ask your child's pediatrician or a nurse to show you around the website. That way, you can learn which features are most helpful and how to find the information you need in a hurry.
Contact a professional family clinic, such as Entira Family Clinics, and inquire about any after-hours services or helps they offer. By taking the time to discuss office policies and features with your child's pediatrician, you might be ready for any illness or injury your baby throws at you.