By Charlotte Hilton Anderson, REDBOOK
Dr. X's office was great. It was clean. They had lots of toys and books. The staff was kind. It even had a massive fish tank right in the middle which as every parent knows is the seminal hallmark of an excellent pediatrician. And I really liked Dr. X. When I saw him, that is. Well-child check-ups earned us five whole minutes with the good doctor, but no time for questions. Sick visits, shockingly, were even shorter. I clocked one at a paltry 30 seconds before he threw a prescription at us and ran out the door to the next tot. Sure it was like my son's 10th ear infection and we knew the symptoms as well as my son knows Thomas the Tank engines, but still.
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The final straw came when my 9-month-old baby came down with a fever of 107. Yes, 107. It was during office hours and in a panic I called my pediatrician only to be told by him that he had absolutely no time to see us and to book an appointment for the next day. Thankfully I didn't listen to him and rushed my baby to the E.R. where he spent 5 days in the hospital on IV antibiotics. Had I listened to Dr. X... well, I can't even think about that possibility.
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I get that pediatricians are overworked and, at least for doctors, underpaid. I know Dr. X was busy. But all the same, it was time to break up. Without so much as a backward glance, I found a new pediatrician. This one has a tiny office with no grand fish tank and only a few exam rooms but four children later, he knows every inch of my kids, their medical histories, their names and even what flavor of popsicle they like after they get their shots. He's listened patiently to all my questions and because of this he was the first one to spot an infection in my daughter that is so rare her case earned it's own write-up in a medical journal. (I know, what is up with my kids and freaky illnesses?) The difference has been immense and my only regret is that I didn't jump ship sooner.
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And yet, "firing" your pediatrician can be a tricky job for a parent, often fraught with worry, inconvenience and insurance hassles. But, says NBC's chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Sneiderman, "Firing pediatricians is something that probably doesn't happen often enough. There is no reason not to leave a doctor you're unhappy with. However, be sure to have another physician lined up before making the end of your relationship official."
Have you ever had to fire your child's pediatrician? Why and how did you do it?
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