Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Choosing a Pediatrician for Your Baby

If you are expecting baby, you should look into choosing a pediatrician for your child while you are still pregnant. Why do you need to choose a pediatrician before your baby is born? There are many important reasons.

First of all, most pediatricians will want to check in with you and your baby when you're in the hospital after you give birth(unless of course, you delver your baby at a hospital that the doctor is not affiliated with). If you do not have a doctor selected, your baby will be examined by a doctor of the hospital's choosing, or whatever doctor happens to be on staff at the time. Also, all newborns need a well check within one week after birth. During that busy time, you will not be in the mood to start researching pediatricians. Thus, it is a good idea to have your pediatrician decided upon ahead of time.

So what are some important factors to look for when choosing a doctor for your baby?

Insurance. Obviously, your medical insurance plan may dictate which doctors you can select from. If your have a PPO plan and can select any doctor, do your research on all of the doctors in the area. Ask friends and family for recommendations and make an appointment to meet the doctor ahead of time. If you are in an HMO or POS plan, you may have to select from a smaller pool of in network doctors. Keep in mind that most large practices accept all kinds of insurance.

Location. Your dream doctor may be located an hour away from your home-- and that's okay for well check visits if the doctor is that wonderful. Think ahead, however, to what you will do if your baby gets sick. Will you want to travel that far away to see the doctor? It is best to find a doctor within 15 to 30 minutes from your home. Young babies have well check visits every month during the first year of life, so you definitely want to choose a doctor whose location is convenient.

Practice size. If your dream doctor is part of a large practice, keep in mind that you will want to fid out about the other doctors in the practice. While you can try to schedule well check visits with Dream Doctor, sick visits will be a whole different ballgame. You will most definitely end up seeing other doctors if it is a busy practice. Make sure that you like most, if not all, of the doctors in a large practice.

The nurses and office staff, the doctor's nurses and office staff are just as important as the doctor. These are the people that you and your child will see first-- and it will set the tone for your entire visit. Check out the waiting room-- is it always jam packed? Are the nurses and office staff friendly? A good doctor is only as good as his or her office staff is. Also, if the doctor keeps you waiting for an hour every time you have an appointment, then find another practice. While last minute emergency situations will come up for any doctor, if your appointment is pushed back every time you go in, then the doctor is not being courteous to you or his or her other patients.

Hospital Affiliation. Make sure that you are familiar with and like the hospital that the doctor is affiliated with. While most insurance plans will allow you to take your child to any hospital if the need arises, it is always easier to stay within your pediatrician's hospital network. There will be less red tape and miscommunication between the doctor's office and the hospital. Make sure the hospital admits children, as well.

Research. Researching doctors for your entire family is key. There are many online sites that offer reports on doctors, including any malpractice suits. Before you pay for such reports, however, see what you can find out about the doctor on your own. A Google search might be all you need to do to find reviews and other information about the doctors and practices that you are considering.

One final note: If you have a baby boy and are considering having him circumcised, find out who will be doing it. Surprisingly, in most cases, the mother's obstetrician will perform the circumcision, not the pediatrician. Still, if the pediatrician will be the one to do the procedure you will want to have a doctor selected ahead of time.

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