You want the best for your child, and nothing is more important than their health.
To get the best care for your kids, see to it that your child has regular "well care" visits with the right doctor.
And, in case you ever need it, make sure you are aware of the specialized care available at a children’s hospital.
Care for children
Despite all the changes in health care, for infants and children regular "well care" visits are still vital for many reasons. Regular check-ups help:
• Spot problems early and prevent them from becoming bigger ones
• Make sure your child has the proper immunizations and tests to avoid diseases that can have long-term effects
• Form trust between the doctor and your child, helping the child feel comfortable when they do get sick.
• Your doctor get to know what is special about your child so they can choose the best treatment options
Also, it is usually more cost effective to get care for ordinary problems, such as colds and flu, from a primary care doctor than from an emergency room.
Doctors for kids
There are two kinds of primary care doctors for children:
• Pediatricians are doctors who specializes in the treatment of babies, children and teens. A pediatrician has four years of medical school and three years of additional training to understand all the differences between children's bodies and those of adults. The offices of a pediatrician, from the waiting room to the size of equipment, are designed just for kids, being trained in the treatments and resources for children.
• Family practitioners (also called family medicine) treat everyone in the family, from the youngest to the oldest. That means when there is a family history of a particular problem, even just a cold or flu, the family practitioner can help the whole family. Family practitioners have four years of medical school and three years of additional training in their specialty.
Some things to look for
When looking for a doctor for your children, you want to consider the same things you would for any doctor: location, office hours, policies on appointments and payments. You also might consider some specifics:
• When I call the office with a question, who will speak to me?
• How often will you see my child for check-ups and immunizations?
• If there are several doctors in a practice, can I schedule appointments with you, or will I see whoever is in?
• How far in advance must I make an appointment for well-care? How quickly can I get in with a sick child?
• What insurance do you accept? How are claims handled? When do you expect payment?
• Which hospital are you affiliated with?
A hospital just for kids
You might ask why your family needs a children's hospital. Aren't all hospitals and ERs the same? The simple but important answer is "no."
Growing children have different bodies than grownups. Medical treatment affects children differently than adults, even if they suffer from the same illness. What might be a routine procedure for an adult may be of serious concern for a developing child. Children need expert care from pediatric specialists who not only identify a young patient’s immediate medical needs, but also recognize the long-term effects of procedures and treatments on children.
Specialized medical professionals
The need for a children’s hospital becomes even more critical when a child requires a pediatric specialist to provide a higher level of care. As part of their training, these specialists participate in fellowships that can last up to three more years of medical training.
Nurses working in a children’s hospital also specialize in their fields of pediatric medicine, such as pediatric intensive care, pediatric rehabilitation and pediatric cancer and more.
In addition to the specialized staff, a children’s hospital, its facilities, the equipment, the medications, everything, is tailored to fit the needs of children. If you wonder whether your local hospital measures up, just call and ask them: