8 Key Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician

Choosing the right pediatrician for your baby is a task of immense importance, demanding thoughtful reflection. You’re seeking a medical professional who will care for your newborn and with whom you are comfortable. To guide you in this essential decision-making, we have formulated a checklist of key questions to ask your pediatrician, a compilation of eight crucial inquiries to pose to potential primary care physicians.

1. What is your level of experience, and how long have you been in practice?

Knowing the pediatrician’s experience and tenure can provide insights into their expertise and ability to handle various medical situations. While a newer practice may lack extensive experience, it could also mean more personalized attention during visits. Consider your preferences and comfort level when evaluating their response.

2. What is your stance on vaccinations?

Discussing vaccinations is essential to ensure that your pediatrician follows the recommended vaccination schedules for children. Discuss any general worries regarding vaccine safety or the timing of your vaccinations.

3. Do you practice individually or as part of a group?

Understanding whether the pediatrician practices individually or as part of a group can shed light on the availability of coverage when they are away. If they work with a team of other doctors, find out more about them and whether or not you feel comfortable with them. Some practices may also have pediatric nurse practitioners or physician assistants who provide specialized care.

4. How long does a typical check-up last?

An ideal check-up should last at least 20 minutes to allow for a thorough examination and discussion of any concerns or questions. Inquire about the duration of check-ups, particularly during the early visits when you may have more inquiries as a new parent.

5. How are emergencies handled?

Understanding the pediatrician’s approach to emergencies is crucial for your child’s well-being. Inquire about their availability for same-day walk-in visits and how they handle after-hours emergencies and questions. Some practices may offer online platforms for communication, such as requesting prescription refills or scheduling appointments.

6. What is the call-in policy?

Ask about the pediatrician’s call-in policy. Some may have designated periods during which you can make routine calls, while others may have nurses available to answer questions. The costs of phone consultations should be considered in advance.

7. Is telehealth available?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many pediatricians now offer telehealth services. Inquire about the availability of virtual appointments and consultations. While well-child visits may not be suitable for telehealth, it can be a convenient option for certain situations, sparing you from bringing a sick child to the doctor’s office.

8. What kind of facilities do you have for both sick and well-child checkups?

Not all pediatrician offices have separate areas for sick and well-child visits, but it’s worth asking about. Some practices may have dedicated rooms or even separate waiting room areas to minimize the risk of cross-contamination and protect the health of both sick and well children.

In addition to the questions for the doctor, it’s important to gather information about the office and staff to ensure a smooth experience for you and your child.

  • What are the office hours, and how can I reach you after-hours? Knowing the office hours and after-hours contact information is vital for emergencies or urgent situations. Ask about after-hours contact options with the pediatrician or office personnel.
  • Does the practice accept my insurance? What about different insurance plans? It’s crucial to ensure that the pediatrician’s practice accepts your insurance. Inquire about the range of insurance plans they accept in case your coverage changes in the future. If you don’t have insurance, ask if they offer payment plans or alternatives for uninsured patients.
  • Which hospital(s) are you affiliated with? Does my insurance cover services there? Knowing the hospital(s), the pediatrician is affiliated with is important in case your child requires hospitalization or specialized care. Additionally, verify whether your insurance covers services at those hospitals.
  • What specialists are available within the practice? Inquire about the specialists affiliated with the pediatrician’s practice. This information can be valuable if your child needs a referral to a specialist for specific medical conditions or concerns.
  • Is there a 24-hour phone or text line for parents? Having access to a 24-hour phone or text line for parents can provide peace of mind, knowing that you can seek guidance or assistance at any time. Inquire about the availability of such services.
  • Can parents stay overnight with their child if they require hospitalization? If your child requires hospitalization, you may want to know if you can spend the night there with them. This policy can greatly impact your comfort level and your child’s well-being.
  • How long does one typically have to wait for an appointment? Inquire about the average appointment wait time to gauge the practice’s efficiency and the potential wait time you and your child may experience.
  • Can I choose which doctor my child sees in a group practice? If the pediatrician works in a group practice, ask whether you have the flexibility to choose which doctor your child sees. If desired, this allows you to establish a consistent relationship and familiarity with a specific physician.
  • Is there a fee for paying deductibles with a credit card? Find out what your alternatives are for paying your deductible and if there are any extra charges for using a credit card.

By asking these important questions, you’ll gain valuable insights into the pediatrician’s qualifications, practice policies, and the overall suitability of their services for your child. Remember to consider your preferences, comfort level, and your family’s specific needs when making your final decision.

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