Knowing When to Switch Doctors for Your Child

By Amanda Winstead

When you have a child with a disability or complex medical condition, good support makes all of the difference. You need to be there for your kids, listen to their concerns, and find the medical professionals that can help them to thrive and live their best life. A big part of caring for your child is knowing when to move on to a new physician that may be able to better assist with their needs.

Today, we will talk about the various reasons why you might need to move on from your current physician and what to look for in a new doctor.

Doctor and child in a playground area work together.

Choosing a Pediatrician and When to Move On

At least three months before your child is born, you should find a qualified pediatrician and create a relationship with them. It is important to have trust so you can feel comfortable taking their advice. When it comes to finding the right pediatrician, you should ask certain questions, including:

  • What hospitals are they affiliated with?
  • Are they part of a care provider for rare and complex conditions?
  • What other services do they offer?
  • What insurance do they take?
  • Do they have experience with complex medical conditions?

During your search for a qualified pediatrician, look online at previous patient reviews. You should also ask for referrals from family and friends so you know you are getting someone that you can trust.

While there are reasons you may switch pediatricians during your child's younger years, it is also important to know the general guidelines for when your kid should transition from a pediatrician to a primary care doctor. In most cases, children without complex needs can move on to a primary care physician at 18 years of age. However, children with disabilities or multiple health concerns may wait a bit longer, but they typically transition by the age of 21.

When you decide to make the switch, ask the pediatrician for referrals. Also, tell the new physician about all of your child's needs so they can get a full understanding of the situation.

Finding a Doctor That Can Assist with Complex Needs

In the case that your child has a disability or specific needs, you will want to search out a pediatrician that has experience with these cases. Since the world of disability healthcare is improving, there are many qualified physicians with the knowledge to assist. Also, many physicians are qualified to tackle complex medical issues, so there are options out there. Ask your current doctor if they have experience with such cases, and if they don't, then you should switch physicians.

There are numerous conditions that can be considered medically complex health issues. Rare illnesses, functional impairments and developmental disabilities that are not easily treated are considered medically complex. It is important to find a qualified physician because they are trained in these specific conditions. Also, they know that your child may need extensive healthcare that may require more than just routine checkups.

A young boy looks on with trepidation as a smiling nurse in a lab coat administers a shot in his shoulder.

Even if the pediatrician recommends a particular doctor for complex needs, that doesn't mean it is the end of the road. When you have an appointment with that doctor, tell them about your child's needs and ask the doctor about their experience in that area. If the doctor doesn't have experience with those specific conditions, then you may need to keep talking to physicians until you find the right one.

Other Reasons That Your Doctor May Not Be Working Out

The fact is that there are many different reasons why patients break up with their doctors. One reason to move on may be that there is poor communication with your current physician. If your child has a disability or complex needs, then you need to be in the loop for all important decisions and updates. If you are not being contacted when an important issue happens, or you have to repeatedly call the doctor to reach them, then you should ask for a better way to communicate—and if you don't get one, consider moving on.

Many people also move on from their doctor because they feel like their appointments are rushed. Again, you want the best for your child, and to provide that care, you need to know everything that you can do on your end to help them thrive. If you are visiting the doctor and you get short answers, or they try to rush you out of the room before you can get the information you need, then find a doctor who understands that you deserve to be a part of the conversation.

In many cases, you can find out about a particular doctor before you get too involved by reading online reviews. Even if a doctor comes heavily recommended, still take the time to research them online and if you see that they are always late or previous patients complain that they don't communicate, then consider starting your search for someone new.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you may want to switch doctors, especially if your child has a disability or complex condition. Consider the tips discussed here, and find the best care for your beloved kids.

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