Once upon a time, you thought you found your “Pediatrician Charming.” It seemed like a match made in Heaven.
- He got rave reviews from your Facebook friends.
- The office staff rolled out the red carpet when you came to visit.
- And…swoon…he was even in-network.
But then you tied the knot, and reality sank in.
He looked good on paper, but you’re quickly realizing that this story may not have a fairytale ending.
You know what you need?
A fairy godmother.
Someone who can help you figure out if your alleged Dr. Charming is more of a toad or a prince.
So let’s pretend for today that yours truly has a magic wand and little blue cape. Ask me your questions, and I’ll turn your pumpkins into carriages and do my best to answer.
Are you ready?
Dealing with a Difficult Office Staff
Dear Fairy Godmother: I like our doctor, but don’t know if I can handle the office staff’s unprofessionalism. It’s really difficult to schedule an appointment, the wait time is ridiculous, and they’re just plain rude. What should I do?
– Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Dat
Dear Ain’t Nobody Got Time: If the office staff is less than professional, you can either talk to the office manager or talk to your doctor directly. Doctors are focused on patients all day, so they may be unaware of the problem.
When we had issues with our little man, we almost switched doctors because of a glaring clerical error. Thankfully, we decided to talk to our doctor who apologized and thanked us for pointing out the problem so he could deal with it. It was a win-win.
Try giving the doctor an opportunity to address the issue and the staff an opportunity to improve. Everybody appreciates a second chance.
Not Seeing Eye-to-Eye
Dear Fairy Godmother: I’m noticing that my child’s doctor isn’t supportive of my parenting choices. When I share my breastfeeding woes, she’s quick to suggest that I switch to formula, and she suggests Tylenol as a fix for everything when I’ve told her that I prefer a more holistic approach. Should I look for another doctor or am I being too picky?
– Needing Support
Dear Needing Support: I don’t always agree with our pediatrician either.
She told us to throw away the pacifier by age two. (And risk his napping? No way!) I prefer to keep that magical piece of rubber around for a bit longer.
She’s a big fan of crying-it-out. My second-born decided he’s not. 😉
Have you ever heard of the 80-20 rule? It’s the idea that if you agree with someone 80% of the time and disagree 20% of the time, you can usually make it work.
That’s how I am with our pediatrician. We disagree on the minors, not the majors, and on most things, we see eye-to-eye.
So, here’s my question to you: do you agree with your child’s doctor 80% of the time?
If you answered “no”, it may be time to make a switch.
Here’s the thing. If you don’t have a similar philosophy, you’re both going to end up frustrated. You won’t feel supported in your choices and your doctor won’t like it when you don’t heed her medical advice.
Hope you find the support you need!
Annoying the Nurses
Dear Fairy Godmother: When I call the nurse line with a question, I can feel them rolling their eyes at me, and I’m afraid they now have me on some sort of blacklist. Should I say something or am I really “that” mom?
Dear Blacklisted: I feel you, girlfriend! I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve started with “Sorry, me again…”
Maybe the nurses do have you on their naughty list…or maybe it’s in your head.
Start by asking yourself: Have the nurses actually done or said anything to make you believe they find you annoying? Or are you second-guessing yourself and assuming the worst? (It’s almost always the latter for me.)
If the nurses seem genuinely annoyed, then do some more self-reflection. Ask yourself these questions:
Am I respecting their time?
Make sure you’re prepared before you call. Take your baby’s temperature, write down symptoms or questions, know the name of your child’s prescription all before you pick up the phone.
Am I being kind?
Sick kids can stress a parent out. Make sure you’re not taking it out on your nurses! Mind your Ps and Qs each time you call.
If everything’s okay on your end and you’re still having issues, ask to talk to the head nurse or (if necessary) your pediatrician. Calmly explain your concerns and give them a chance to address the problem.
Dear Fairy Godmother: My daughter’s pediatrician missed an important diagnosis. Thankfully, another doctor caught it in time. Now we don’t know if we can trust him moving forward. Is it okay to look for another doc or should we give him another shot?
– All Shook Up
Dear All Shook Up: What a frightening experience! I’m sorry you and your daughter had to live through such an ordeal.
Should you look for another doc?
Ultimately, it’s up to you, but I see two red flags in your letter.
The first red flag is the one that your doctor didn’t see (or even mistook for blue!). Any time a doctor misses a diagnosis or misdiagnoses a patient, we should pause and evaluate.
Was this a difficult diagnosis that most doctors would have missed? Or was it an easy catch, and your child’s doc just dropped the ball?
Doctors are human, but they are held to a certain standard. You want to make sure that your pediatrician is able to give your child the best care possible.
The second flag is the “trust flag.”
The doctor-patient relationship is built on trust. Dr. Mary Adams of the American Academy of Pediatrics explains the pediatric trust paradigm perfectly:
“Parents need to trust physicians to have skill and competence; Children need to trust their parents to have their best interests at heart; and pediatricians need to trust that families know their children and have a true understanding of their capacities and limitations.”
It sounds like you don’t trust your physician’s skill and competence right now, and that’s certainly understandable. But if you don’t think that trust can be rebuilt, then it’s time to look for another doc.
I hope that it’s true love, but if it’s not, here are a few tips to make the break-up easier on both of you:
- Try to have a new (in-network) doctor lined up before you leave your old one.
- If you want to offer an explanation for leaving, feel free, but don’t feel obligated.
- If there is a serious malpractice issue, contact your state’s Medical Board.
- Don’t forget to transfer your medical records.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows you to receive copies of your medical records within 30 days of making a request. The provider cannot charge you for retrieving your records, but they can charge a reasonable fee to cover their copying and mailing costs. In most cases, you can expect to pay $20-25.
Try to resist the urge to badmouth your old pediatrician. If someone specifically asks about your old doctor, then by all means, share your experience, but don’t make it your life goal to ruin his reputation.
Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty. Your #1 job is taking care of that cute baby of yours! Do what you need to do…guilt. free.
It’s Decision Time
The clock is about to strike midnight, and you have a decision to make.
Fairy godmothers are great and all, but the truth is, you are the expert on your own baby.
Only you can know for certain if you’ve found your Ped Charming or if it’s time to move on.
I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for your family.
And when you do, may you and your sweet baby live happily (and healthily!) ever after!
Have You Read These Yet?
- Everything a New Warrior Mama Needs to Know About Baby Care
- Beware the Lurking Monster: 9 Signs of Teething to Watch For
- How to Spot the Early Signs of Autism in Babies and Toddlers
- Paging Dr. Right: 7 Steps to Find Your Perfect Pediatrician