Ask the Doctor. Did I choose the wrong Pediatrician?

May 12, 2011 12:00 AM

Q: How do you know if you have the wrong pediatrician? What are the warning signs?

A: Your baby’s health provider becomes a part of your family. In some states, such as New York, a pediatrician will take care of your child until age 21—from cradle to college. Finding the right one is hard, but what if you have a doctor, but are having doubts? Here are four warning signs that you should go through the effort of finding a new doctor for your child.

Beware of doctors who refuse to give prenatal interviews. This visit is important to see if you feel comfortable in the practice, to ask questions, to have a chance to interact with the physician, and to find out if you are compatible with the physician’s personality and style of practice.

Do not use a provider who undermines your confidence. All new parents question themselves much of the time. With all of your personal and professional accomplishments, having a baby is something new and different, something you have never done before. If parents don’t know what to do or make a mistake, the pediatrician’s role is to gently build their confidence and not to criticize or reprimand.

When a provider does not listen to you Every family has traditions and beliefs; their own ideas about raising a child. These traditions and beliefs may or may not be the doctor’s point of view. The doctor needs to listen to the parents and to have a conversation with clear explanations as to why he/she may agree or disagree. A professional who forces his /her ideas upon you is wrong for you and your child. Asking questions should be comfortable and easy, not scary. When a provider gives you outdated advice Medicine is not an exact science and it changes with new research and discoveries. A doctor who is not up to date with the newest information may give you wrong advice. For example, syrup of ipecac was once widely used to induce vomiting when children would ingest a poison and all parents were told to have it in their home. But this remedy has been found to be dangerous and has not been used for many years.

When there is no communication after hours or in emergencies You should know that if something serious happens after hours you can communicate with the doctor, his/hers associates, or someone covering the practice. They need to be informed and provide follow up. Many other issues need to be considered as well: the distance from the practice, insurance coverage, and hospital affiliation. But in the end, the level of comfort and trust is most important.


Erika Landau, M.D. with Abigail Brenner, M.D. wrote The Essential Guide to Baby’s First Year.

Erika Landau, M.D. is a pediatrician in New York. She has been in private practice since 1999. Dr. Landau is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Student Health Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She has lectured nationally and internationally on issues concerning child advocacy, nutrition,chronic illness and women pysician’s health. Her articles have been published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and The International Pediatric Congress in The Netherlands and Israel. Born and educated in Romania, Dr. Landau completed her training at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Landau is a proud mother of a daughter and lives in New York with her family.

Abigail Brenner, M.D., (New York, N.Y. and San Francisco, Calif.) attended
New York Medical College and completed her internship and residency in
psychiatry at New York University-Bellevue Medical Center. She spent many
years as an attending physician at the NYU-Bellevue Adult Mental Hygiene
Clinic and as an assistant clinical professor at New York University Medical
School. A board-certified psychiatrist in practice for more than 30 years,
Dr. Brenner is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. She is the
author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life and
SHIFT: How to Deal When Life Changes and an ordained Interfaith Minister.
Dr. Brenner lives in San Francisco and New York, is married, the mother of
two, and a grandmother of four.

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