When your children need healthcare, your first instinct may be to call your family physician for an appointment. However, many medical experts advise choosing a pediatrician is a wiser choice. Within the ranks of the physicians in your area, some can be designated as elite pediatric healthcare providers. Choosing practitioners who can provide this level of care and attention for your child is the best choice for those who want the best for their children.
What is Pediatrics?
Pediatrics is the study of providing medical care for children. Although a doctor in this field can be classified as a child doctor, pediatricians are licensed to care for patients from birth up to age 18. Medication and treatment choices for patients between those ages require extensive knowledge of the differences in children’s physical, mental, and emotional needs.
The field of pediatrics has many doctors who work in general practices. These offices care for children with all types of pediatric medical concerns. However, some pediatricians are specialists – caring solely about specific aspects of children’s medicine. Examples of pediatric specialists include pediatric surgeons, pediatric oncologists, and pediatric dentists.
To be considered a doctor who provides elite pediatric healthcare, their practice must provide -at a minimum- a well-trained group of physicians and ancillary staff. The practice should offer modern diagnostic services, fully supplied private examination rooms, and caring staff who will provide exemplary customer service. The child’s experience in a pediatric office should ensure that their medical needs are addressed and leave them feeling as though they have been lovingly cared for.
If They Need Fluids
Intravenous fluids are common for hospital patients who need to receive medications and fluids rapidly. One of the most common reasons children need IV treatment is dehydration. If you notice your child has a dry mouth, decreased urine output, sunken eyes, and no tear production, you should take them to the emergency room. Dehydration can lead to severe complications when it’s not corrected by fluid and mineral replenishment.
Accessing a child’s veins to deliver IV treatment is more complicated than doing so for adult patients. Healthcare practices trying to provide elite pediatric healthcare while administering IVs need to provide the services of nurses with experience accessing the veins of children. The staff must also understand how to calculate the amount and rate of fluid delivery that would be safe and effective for the child.
Children with cancer often receive chemotherapy treatments via intravenous fluids. A pediatric oncologist (children’s cancer doctor) is the best doctor to supervise and direct the care of these children. Children with cancer and their families need special emotional and spiritual support. A pediatric oncology office often has counselors or chaplains on staff to provide for these needs.
If They Have Teeth Issues
Some of the health problems common to children involve their teeth and gums. The proper development of teeth is crucially linked to the child’s nutrition. When your child has issues with their teeth, you’ll need to take them to see a dentist. Some families feel more comfortable taking their children to pediatric dental practices.
Just as medical issues for children require a different approach than those for adults, children’s jaws, gums, and teeth require a different approach. Pediatric dentists – especially those who intend to provide elite pediatric healthcare – have been extensively trained to be aware of and make allowances for those differences. Although the atmosphere doesn’t need to be juvenile, it should be child-oriented.
Pediatric dentists ensure their staff and offices are oriented toward children who need dental care. These offices are frequently decorated with juvenile themes and provide examination rooms outfitted for children. Dental procedures are often frightening for children, so the team at these offices are all very patient and supportive. They also have been trained to explain the procedures so children can understand them.
If They Have Ear Issues
When your child has an ear infection, it can be uncomfortable for them. However, as a parent, you may be more concerned about the possible complications of an ear infection. All infections can lead to severe complications, so parents often decide to take their child to a pediatric ear specialist. These doctors are called pediatric otolaryngologists.
During normal childhood development, parents often discover their child has hearing loss when the child doesn’t react normally to voices and sounds. Pediatric otolaryngologists collaborate with pediatric audiologists to devise the best solutions for the child’s hearing loss. If the hearing loss is profound, it may also affect the quality of the child’s speech. Practices offering elite pediatric healthcare solutions will provide solutions ranging from hearing aids to speech therapy and provide access to cochlear implant surgery when it is appropriate.
Due to a decrease in doctor visits for hearing issues during 2020 (related to the COVID-19 pandemic), today’s pediatric otolaryngology practices are seeing a significant increase in patients. Many of those patients might have typically seen a doctor in 2020 but did not. Now, they are coming to see doctors with problems that have advanced in severity for 2–3 years.
If They Have Vision Issues
A child with limited vision will have difficulty in school and will also be at risk for safety issues. Dealing with a vision problem when a parent notices that condition will help the child obtain the needed treatment. If the child’s visual problem can be corrected by wearing prescription glasses, a pediatric optometrist can quickly intervene to provide that solution. If it needs more serious intervention, the child can be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Children who wear eyeglasses or those with conditions like strabismus (crossed eyes) or amblyopia (vision stronger in one eye than the other eye) will need regular doctor visits. Children with serious eye conditions may require eye surgery. For eye surgeries, they will need to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. As with any other pediatric practice, these doctors need unique approaches to working with children.
If They Can’t Sleep
Any new parent can attest, the first few months of living with a baby can be difficult. It can take months for a baby to develop a regular sleep schedule, but eventually, they will sleep through the night. If a child with an established sleep schedule begins having difficulty sleeping, the parents should seek help from a doctor. Although adults with sleep problems consult a sleep doctor (somnologist), children with sleep problems are often taken to a pediatric neurologist.
Sleep disorders can impact a child’s ability to learn at school and affect their behavior, memory, and focus. Some of the most common sleep disorders in children are obstructive sleep apnea (common in obese children or those with Down’s Syndrome) and narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness interspersed with loss of muscle tone.) Doctors offering elite pediatric healthcare for these conditions will formulate sleep plans to correct any obstruction or physical abnormalities.
Sometimes, children who are unable to sleep are struggling with nightmares. Many emotional problems or fears can cause nightmares. Some of those problems could be due to serious family issues. Parents may help their child regain their regular sleep schedule with the help of a child psychologist or a family counselor.
If They have Pain
Watching a child suffer in pain can be devastating for a parent. One illness that often causes severe pain is Sickle Cell Anemia. With this disease, the patient develops abnormally large blood cells, which can block blood vessels and cause pain. Sickle cell anemia is a chronic condition, and a child who suffers from this disease will need a regular schedule of treatments.
Pediatricians are often experienced in offering customized pain management strategies designed specifically for children. It’s important to note that children frequently tolerate pain medications differently than adults. One method used with children to help them rate their pain is the Wong-Baker Face Scale: a pain rating scale using faces with big frowns up to big smiles that help children who don’t yet understand how to rate pain using a numerical rating scale.
Many modern advances are being made and utilized in practices that offer elite pediatric healthcare. For example, when children need to manage chronic severe pain while they’re at their homes, they are often visited by home care nurses and then given devices called PCAs (patient-controlled analgesics.) With these devices, the patient is connected to a machine they can control. When they are in pain, the patient pushes a button to administer the pain medication.
If They have Behavioral Issues
Every child has moments when they misbehave, but it becomes a pattern for some. Parents often consult a child psychologist or a family therapist if a child’s inappropriate behavior begins to disrupt their lives or their studies seriously. The most common behavioral issues currently affecting children are oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Statistics show these problems occur more frequently in boys, but they can also occur in girls.
When these behavioral issues are diagnosed, they are often found because of academic problems. Therefore, when the doctor compiles a treatment plan for these children, they will include input and participation from the child’s parents, teachers, and school counselor. All the team members will then work with the child to assist them in achieving their best possible behavior pattern. This collaborative approach to addressing the child’s problems is another example of elite pediatric healthcare interventions.
Discovering and intervening when your child has behavioral health issues can be an important preventive measure for their future. Awareness of the need for early intervention for behavioral health problems is increasing. Many schools are beginning to reserve computer tablets that students can use to access telehealth therapists at school. A coordinated plan can be formulated once they have had their initial encounter with a therapist.
If They’re Bitten by Pests
It’s unfortunate to know there are still times when bed bugs bite children. When parents see small red bites on their child’s body, in zigzag clusters of 3-5 bites, they can conclude the cause is bed bugs. Although a general pediatrician can adequately address this problem, some parents prefer to take their child to a pediatric dermatologist.
If the bites are discovered early, the rash can be easily treated with an antihistamine for the itch and a corticosteroid cream for the redness. If bedbug bites are not treated as soon as possible, they can cause an infection. Any infection can lead to serious complications and -if unchecked – could require intravenous antibiotics. A medical practice that provides elite pediatric healthcare can treat both complicated medical challenges and more common complaints like bed bug bites.
Although treating the child’s symptoms is probably the parents’ priority, they also need to address the challenge of bed bug removal. If these pests remain in the home, they will spread across all the furniture and can continue to repeat their episodes of biting the children. They will need to call a professional pest control company to remove the bed bugs from the home completely.
If They Need Check-Ups for School
A common reason for school-age children to go to the pediatrician is to get their annual school physicals. Although these exams are routine and don’t usually cause any anxiety, they can potentially find a medical concern the child and their parents are unaware of. Completing these appointments will also ensure the child can safely participate in school sports teams. These exams can also serve as a valuable benchmark of the child’s medical history.
All schools require school check-ups before the beginning of the school year. From public high schools to a private charter preschool, schools are responsible for ensuring their students are all healthy. A school is also responsible for providing access to a nurse or other healthcare provider during the school day. The school nurse is often the initial place where any medical concerns can be addressed.
Children can have many types of healthcare concerns. Not all those concerns require elite pediatric healthcare. However, parents should be alert for times their pediatrician has not entirely addressed their children’s health problems. When children need pediatric specialists, parents should be prepared to provide those services.