When Jennifer Aaronson, 41, a Manhattan magazine editor and mother of two, was pregnant with her first child, she did what every baby book tells you to do: she interviewed doctors and found one she thought was a good fit. “We knew we were having a boy, and my husband wanted a male pediatrician, so we found this guy who was the head of whatever, had an impressive resume and seemed totally fine in the interview.” But it wasn’t long before Aaronson left her doctor visits feeling the doctor was “brushing us off like ‘you silly first-time parents.’”
When Aaronson’s son Gio was just nine months old and had a constant cough, she knew something was wrong. She brought him in before a trip away from home, and her doctor said, “He’s fine, it’s just a cough.” On the trip, Gio ended up in a hospital emergency room and was sent home with a diagnosis of pneumonia. When they got back, Aaronson showed her pediatrician the X-rays and got the brush off again. “He said, ‘I don’t think it’s pneumonia.’”
Then it happened again. Aaronson took her sick son in, was told she was overreacting and went home, only to end up in the ER days later with a diagnosis of pneumonia. And that was it: “He kept brushing us off as first-time parents, but two different emergency rooms told us he had pneumonia, so we said, enough with that.”
Aaronson switched pediatricians and never looked back.
For Aaronson, it wasn’t so much that her doctor missed pneumonia two times. After all, she says, maybe it wasn’t pneumonia when he saw it. For her, the problem was feeling belittled. Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital who writes the Seattle Mama Doc blog, agrees. “You want to feel comfortable asking your pediatrician questions, and you want to trust the answers,” says Dr. Swanson. If you don’t, it’s time to find a new doc.
“It’s a really normal and common thing to switch a doctor,” says Swanson. “Whenever your instinct is telling you to look for someone else, you should trust your gut. Physicians are there to provide a service to you. If you’re not getting the service you think you need, you should go elsewhere.”
Five Signs it’s Time to Switch
1. You can’t get a word in edgewise. If your pediatrician runs the show during your visits and you don’t have time to ask the questions you came with or respond to what she’s saying and ask follow-ups, “that’s a real red flag,” says Swanson. As your child’s advocate, you need to know that your concerns are heard and addressed.
2. Your doctor doesn’t follow through. If your pediatrician says they will do something – like call you back in two days, for instance – and they don’t, it’s a sign the office is overwhelmed and not looking out for your best interests. You are going to follow through on the directions they give you, and in turn, you should expect the office to make good on the promises made to you.
3. Your doctor is a pushover. The whole reason you go to a doctor is “to have access to science and data that you wouldn’t have without going to medical school and through residency,” says Swanson. So if you head to your doctor’s office dead set against a vaccine, it’s his responsibility to fill you in on why that may not be the best choice for your child.
A doctor who just caves to your desires does not have your child’s best interest in mind. “Your doctor should have opinions,” says Swanson, “he just shouldn’t be paternalistic about them. He should be able to come together with a parent and elegantly come up with a plan that makes the most sense for your child.”
4. Your doctor rushes through a physical exam. “One of the great benefits to well visits is getting your child checked head to toe,” says Swanson. These days you might be able to get really detailed and accurate medical information online, but “you can’t have your child looked over head to toe on the Internet.”
Swanson adds, “It’s one of the really incredible and beautiful things about having a partnership with a pediatrician. We really do find things on the physical exam that we wouldn’t otherwise.” So make sure your doctor is spending a good portion of the visit actually examining your kid.
5. Your doctor is not board certified. Believe it or not, there are pediatricians practicing without certification from the American Board of Pediatrics. Before you even make an appointment to interview a physician, go to the board’s website and use their Verification of Certification search tool to find the pediatrician you’re interested in…
Read More: parenting.com