Questions to Ask
Use this list of questions adapted from healthychildren.org, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to help guide your inquiry.
Pediatrician background, credentials and experience
- Tell me about your medical school and residency
- Are you a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics or other specialty organizations?
- How long have you been in practice?
- Do you have subspecialty areas?
- Where are your hospital privileges?
- What happens when my baby is born?
- How do you feel about my calling after hours about “little things”?
- Do you have call-in hours? What about email?
- Is there a 24-hour answering service?
- Who covers when you are on vacation?
Medical approach and philosophy
- What kind of patient would do best in your practice?
- How do you approach the use of antibiotics and prescription medicine, in general?
- How would you describe your relationship to “alternative” medicine?
- What is your approach to environmental considerations?
- How do you handle behavioral needs?
- What is your thinking about the role of nutrition and diet?
- How do you balance a teen’s need for privacy with parental concern?
- Is the office convenient for less travel time with a sick child?
- What are the office hours? Do you have early morning or late hours for working parents?
- Is it easy to access public transportation? Parking?
- How long in advance must appointments be booked?
- Where do diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and blood work happen?
- Do you send appointment reminders?
Fees, methods of payment
- What insurance do you take? Do I need pre-approval?
- Will you bill my insurance company directly?
- Are immunizations extra, or are they included in the office visit charge?
- Do you accept checks and credit cards?
- Is payment due at time of visit, or will you bill me?
- What happens if I miss a visit or I’m late?
Selections below were adapted from a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics. View more at www.healthychildren.org
Choosing the Right Pediatric Practice
Start by asking other parents you know and trust. Ask your obstetrician who will know local pediatricians who are respected within the medical community.
If you’re new to the community, you may decide to contact a nearby hospital, medical school, or county medical society for a list. If you are a member of a managed care plan, you probably will be required to choose from among their approved network of doctors.
Once you have the names of several pediatricians you wish to consider, start by contacting and arranging a personal interview during the final months of your pregnancy. Before meeting with the pediatrician, the office staff should be able to answer some of your more basic questions:
- Is the pediatrician accepting new patients with my insurance or managed care plan?
- What are the office hours?
- What is the best time to call with routine questions?
- How does the office handle billing and insurance claims? Is payment due at the time of the visit?
Both parents should attend the interviews with pediatricians, if possible, to be sure you agree with the pediatrician’s policies and philosophy about child rearing. Ask all your questions. Here is a list that will help you find a great match
How soon after birth will the pediatrician see your baby?
Most hospitals ask for the name of your pediatrician when you’re admitted to deliver your baby. The delivery nurse will then phone that pediatrician or her associate on call as soon as your baby is born. If you had any complications during either your pregnancy or the delivery, your baby should be examined at birth, although this exam may be conducted by a staff pediatrician or neonatologist at the hospital.
Other tests may need to be done if your baby develops any problems after birth or to follow up on any unusual findings on your prenatal sonograms.
When will your baby’s next exams take place?
Pediatricians routinely examine newborns and talk with parents before the babies are discharged from the hospital. During these exams, the doctor can identify any problems that may have come up, while also giving parents a chance to ask questions that occurred to them during the hospital stay. Your pediatrician also will let you know when to schedule the first office visit for your baby and how to reach her if a medical problem develops before then.
All babies also should begin their immunizations before leaving the hospital. The first and most important “immunization” is starting to breastfeed your baby as soon as possible. This provides some early disease protection for your baby.
When is the doctor available by phone? E-mail?
Some pediatricians have a specific call- in period, while others will return calls as they come in. If members of the office staff routinely answer, consider asking what their training is.
At Newton Pediatrics, we are available 24 hrs a day for questions and scheduled visits from 9–5 during regular business days and on demand any other time. Email contact is also available for non-urgent calls.
What hospital does the doctor prefer to use?
Ask the pediatrician where to go if your child becomes seriously ill or is injured. If the hospital is a teaching hospital with interns and residents, find out who would actually care for your child if he/she were admitted.
Newton Pediatrics is credentialed through Newton-Wellesley Hospital for newborn care and pediatric admissions. We are also credentialed with South Shore Hospital, Brockton Hospital, and Good Samaritan Hospital. Dr Bukur-Doczy is affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital as non-active staff. Referrals are done through Boston Children’s Hospital satellite subspecialty locations, or through Massachusetts General Hospital specialists at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
What happens if there is an after-hours (night or weekend) concern or emergency?
Find out if the pediatrician takes her own emergency calls at night. If not, how are such calls handled? Also, ask if the pediatrician sees patients in the office after regular hours, or if you must take your child to an emergency room.
Newton Pediatrics handles all calls after hours. To serve our patients we are available in the office for evaluations and management of most problems during weekends and evenings/ nights. Please call our regular office number and you will be connected to the answering service to handle the initial request. We work closely with our back-up call partners to ensure excellent care at all times.
Who “covers” the practice when your pediatrician is unavailable?
If your pediatrician practices alone, he or she probably will have an arrangement for coverage with other doctors in the community. Usually your pediatrician’s answering service will refer you to the doctor on call automatically, but it’s still a good idea to ask for the names and phone numbers of all the doctors who take these calls.
At Newton Pediatrics, we may be out of the office a few times a year. Please call us at 617-564-0123 and you will be directed to the covering physicians. We work closely with Dr. Lama Rimawi and Dr. Elizabeth Humphrey at Care Pediatrics for cross coverage.
How often will the pediatrician see your baby for checkups and immunizations?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a checkup within 72 hours after your newborn is discharged from the hospital. This is especially important in breastfed babies to evaluate feeding, weight gain, and any yellow discoloration of skin (jaundice). Your pediatrician may adjust this feeding schedule, particularly in the first weeks of life.
Newton Pediatrics follows the guidelines of American Academy of Pediatrics vaccination schedule. (insert link to table) We welcome all questions with an open mind and are happy to guide you through the labyrinth of parenthood. Whether it is related to a health issue or childrearing, we are ready to consult with you and explore solutions.
What are the costs of care?
Your pediatrician should have a standard fee structure for hospital and office visits as well as after-hours visits. Find out if the charges for routine visits include immunizations. Familiarize yourself with the scope of your insurance coverage.
Making a decision
Are you comfortable with the pediatrician’s philosophy, policies, and practice? You must feel that you can trust her and that your questions will be answered and your concerns handled compassionately.
Once your baby arrives, the most important test of the pediatrician you have selected is how she cares for your child and responds to your concerns.
Come meet us in person and find out if we are the right fit for your needs during your pregnancy