12 More Things Your Pediatrician Won’t Tell You

Find out what doctors really think when you diagnose your child over the internet, question the safety of vaccines, and more.

12 More Things Your Pediatrician Won’t Tell You

Plus: 13 Things Your Pediatrician Won’t Tell You

1. Kids have figured out that “This won’t hurt” is code for “This is going to hurt,” and they get all worked up. It’s really best to not even use the word hurt. It just creates anxiety.

2. If you want to do a little Internet research in advance, go for it. But please don’t use a website to diagnose your kids and come in asking for a specific remedy.

3. Don’t ask me medical questions about your child when you see me at the grocery store, pool, or library. When I’m out with my kids, I just want to be a mom.

4. If I prescribe a newer, more expensive medication, it may be because a drug rep just left my office. They constantly bring us presents and flatter us, and their only goal is getting us to prescribe the latest medication, which is usually no better than the older ones. In fact, the older ones have a longer safety track record and really should be the ones we prescribe first.

5. Most visits to the pediatrician, particularly for older children, are unnecessary. It may only take a phone call to find out that your child’s fever, cold, sore throat, ear infection, and even pink eye will most likely get better on its own.

6. Do you really believe that we’d be recommending vaccines if we had any concerns about their safety? Almost all pediatricians immunize their own children.

7. Yes, you can talk to your pediatrician on the phone. Be persistent, be polite, and explain to the staff that you have a pressing, personal issue that you think would be best handled over the phone. We’ll call back as soon as we can.

8. Have a last-minute form for summer camp you need us to fill out? Show up with a smile and some homemade cookies, and we will get it done. I can name two patients off the top of my head who always bring baked goods, and everyone in the office knows and loves them.

9. We often have no idea what a particular medicine costs. If your jaw drops at the price the pharmacy gives you, call us back and see if we can prescribe something else.

10. Stop typing on your smart phone! When I’m talking to your child, I need you to pay attention. He is not going to tell me everything I need to know.

11. When you tell me you gave a decongestant to your toddler, I cringe. Studies show that cold medicines never work well for children under age six, and the risk of overdose and side effects far outweigh any benefit.

12. Listen to your intuition. You know your child better than anyone, and that’s why when you tell me something “isn’t right,” my ears perk up.

Sources: Pediatricians David L. Hill, MD, in Wilmington, North Carolina; Robert Lindeman, MD, in Framingham, Massachusetts; Allison Fabian, DO, in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Amanda Moran, MD, in Charlotte, North Carolina; Roy Benaroch, MD, author of A Guide to Getting the Best Healthcare for Your Child; and a pediatrician in Virginia who preferred not to be named.

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  • Your Comments

    • Terilee27

      I work for a doctor and most of what is said here is basically true, most visits that parents see as an “emergency” are unessesary and a waste of time in the schedule. Advice for parents if your child has a cold a visit to the doctor is usually not needed unless they have a fever and then it can usually be fixed by just a phone call. Common colds cannot be cured by antibiotics just time and you may loose some sleep but you’ll live through it.

    • Laalnix

      I clicked on things a real estate agent would tell, not what a doctor would tell.  I tried twice, same results

    • a pediatrician

      This article seems to advocate for calling the doctor instead of bringing your child in—horrible advice!  Insurance companies do not pay us to talk to you on the phone and it is very difficult to diagnosed a disease over the phone.  Stop calling your doctor and schedule an appointment.  It shows that you respect us enough to allow us to get paid for our advice and also makes sure you get the best possible care for your child. 

      • Patrick

        While I agree in principle, there are some times I think a phone call would be sufficient.  When I was a child I had extremely frequent ear infections which almost invariably presented with the same signs and symptoms each time, so the doctor eventually just told my mother to start phoning the office for a Rx (back in the early 80s when ear infections were always treated with antibiotics).

      • Patrick

        While I agree in principle, there are some times I think a phone call would be sufficient.  When I was a child I had extremely frequent ear infections which almost invariably presented with the same signs and symptoms each time, so the doctor eventually just told my mother to start phoning the office for a Rx (back in the early 80s when ear infections were always treated with antibiotics).

      • Patrick

        While I agree in principle, there are some times I think a phone call would be sufficient.  When I was a child I had extremely frequent ear infections which almost invariably presented with the same signs and symptoms each time, so the doctor eventually just told my mother to start phoning the office for a Rx (back in the early 80s when ear infections were always treated with antibiotics).

    • Guest in Austin, TX

      Our pediatrician kept telling us for months that our son had “allergies”. In fact, he had whooping cough the first time, and six months later had croup. Both went undiagnosed until we were at our wits end and went to the ER.  We spent almost every other day at the pediatricians office before that ER visit.

      • AMom

        Then maybe you need to switch pediatricians. Don’t feel like you HAVE to stick with the one you are currently with. I started with one ped for my son. He got a partner that I saw almost all the time (because of the hours he worked), and when this partner left, I followed him because the original ped’s personality had changed and I didn’t care for how he was treating me.

    • CF

      #4- not in some states.  In MA, doctors are not allowed to receive ANYTHING from pharm companies- even if they are out of state.  Even something as simple as a rep buying you lunch at a conference you are attending in another state (which allows such practices) is not allowed.  and if you’re caught, you could lose your license.

      • Patrick

        Too bad this isn’t uniform.  

    • Nononsensewoman

      Yeah right..a doctor who comes to the phone…actually fills out forms without 10 follow up phone calls, admits that “the free things and perks” from the drug companies are motivation for their prescriptions, and uses all that to get in a gripe or two of their own! Readers Digest used to publish quality. What happened.

    • Nononsensewoman

      Yeah right..a doctor who comes to the phone…actually fills out forms without 10 follow up phone calls, admits that “the free things and perks” from the drug companies are motivation for their prescriptions, and uses all that to get in a gripe or two of their own! Readers Digest used to publish quality. What happened.

    • Nononsensewoman

      Yeah right..a doctor who comes to the phone…actually fills out forms without 10 follow up phone calls, admits that “the free things and perks” from the drug companies are motivation for their prescriptions, and uses all that to get in a gripe or two of their own! Readers Digest used to publish quality. What happened.

    • Nononsensewoman

      Yeah right..a doctor who comes to the phone…actually fills out forms without 10 follow up phone calls, admits that “the free things and perks” from the drug companies are motivation for their prescriptions, and uses all that to get in a gripe or two of their own! Readers Digest used to publish quality. What happened.

    • Nononsensewoman

      Yeah right..a doctor who comes to the phone…actually fills out forms without 10 follow up phone calls, admits that “the free things and perks” from the drug companies are motivation for their prescriptions, and uses all that to get in a gripe or two of their own! Readers Digest used to publish quality. What happened.