Friday, January 20, 2012

Managing Your Child's Medical Care

One of the most important things you can do for your child and yourself is to find the right pediatrician.  This person does not need to know everything about your child's issues.  Really, this is not relevant as your child's specialists will be the experts (well, not always) with the specific issues.  You do not need to see a "developmental pediatrician."  The pediatrician needs to be someone who is empathetic, a good listener, someone who can help manage keeping everything together and communicate between the specialists. The pediatrician may call you at 10pm because he or she just read an article and thinks it may apply to your child.  The pediatrician will take into consideration your concerns when you disagree or want to follow a different plan and will support it.  When your child's ENT doesn't believe your child has developed a massive sinus infection a week after sinus surgery, your pediatrician will believe you and help prove it to the ENT and help you find a new one.  Your pediatrician should be someone your child likes to visit.  Your pediatrician should ask you how you are doing and how you are coping.  Your pediatrician will know that you as the parent know your child best.

Equally important is the office staff.  The office staff should take your phone calls and get back to you right away and never make you feel like you are asking too much or asking a stupid question.  The office staff is critical to managing your child's medical care and is always happy to fax your child's entire medical history to a new specialist or provide you copies of everything.  The office staff will help you in obtaining free formula because the prescription formula your child is on is ridiculously expensive.  

If you don't feel like you have these qualities in your child's pediatrician: I would highly recommend you find another one and I will be happy to provide you with suggestions.

My second piece of advice is to maintain a record of everything - ask for copies of the doctor's notes and ask for copies of x-rays, MRIs, swallow studies, eye exams, etc.  You are not asking too much.  Keep everything as organized as possible and take it with you when you see new physicians or when you have your semi-annually or annually follow ups.  This makes you more credible walking into a doctor's office.  In addition, it is impossible to remember everything each specialist says if you are like us and see a multitude of them.  It is nice to have it handy.  I also recommend that if you are seeing a new specialist, ask your pediatrician's office to fax over the records directly to the new specialist prior to your visit and have a list of questions ready.  You may even want to fax over your list of questions if you think they are going to require research on part of the doctor.  I always knew I found a good doctor when I walked in and they told me they had already done research on Finn's syndrome.

In addition to maintaining records of doctors notes, etc. keep track of the bills and insurance statements.  We encounter errors frequently and you really should read over everything to make sure you are not being double billed.  Pay attention to how things are coded.  If insurance says they won't cover it ask them what code they need to cover it or ask the doctors office if they can try running it through with a different code.  Another tip is if your employer's health insurance program does not cover an item, talk to your benefits coordinator.  They can make exceptions.  Just remember it does not hurt to ask.

I hope this helps.  It has helped us tremendously. 



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