Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Child’s Healthcare

It is very important to find out whether your doctor’s views on parenting issues mesh with your own. Do the doctor’s views on issues like circumcision, breast- feeding, immunizations, nutrition, use of antibiotics, and alternative medicine match your own? Is the doctor aware of and sensitive to any cultural issues your family may have?

Other questions to ask include:

  • What are the office hours? Are weekend or evening hours available?
  • How are sick children separated in the office from children who are visiting for a checkup?
  • Who will see your child if the doctor is on vacation or otherwise not available?
  • With which hospitals are your doctors affiliated? If your child needs to be hospitalized, who will care for your child there?
  • How does the office handle phone calls during and after hours? Are there special call times for parents with non-emergency questions or is someone available during office hours? How quickly can you expect a call back during the day? After hours?
  • Will your child’s doctor handle emergencies or will your child be referred to an urgent care center or emergency room?
  • Are lab tests done in the office?
  • What are they policies regarding referrals to specialists? Is the doctor penalized by your health plan for referrals to specialists? If you are in an HMO, how does your doctor handle out-of-network referrals?
  • What are the fees for services and the payment policies? Must fees be paid in full or are payment plans available?
  • Are there extra charges for things like advice calls, after-hour calls, paperwork, etc.?
  • Are developmental screenings done at suggested intervals to provide a picture of a child’s communication, motor, cognitive, self-help and social-emotional skills?