When Do You Call the Pediatrician?

"Eyes," by Tiffany on Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to contact your child’s doctor.  A few years ago, I was fussing and fussing over an illness my firstborn had. I had just brought her into the office a few days before, and was reluctant to call, but I was worried. My mother-in-law finally just said, “Call the doctor. It’s their job.” A heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders. I soon discovered that pediatric doctors and nurses expect these calls and questions, especially regarding newborns and babies. In fact, a good practice welcomes questions, and is set up to expect phone calls throughout the day. Even on the weekends and at night, pediatric practices should have someone covering phone calls for urgent situations.  I know this seems obvious, but I’ve seen a lot of parents sit in the ER for hours and hours for consultation on a run-of-the-mill virus.

One tool I HEART is the online Pediatric Symptom Checker from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is easy to use and filled with helpful treatment information, as well as common-sense guidelines about who to call and when, and guidelines for true emergencies (do head to the ER for those). I keep it bookmarked for easy reference.