10 Questions to Ask a Pediatrician (And 5 to Ask Yourself)

The Central Valley has so many fine pediatricians that choosing the right one for your child can seem daunting.

A good starting place is recommendations from friends and family or other doctors your family uses and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ list of board-certified pediatricians near your area (at healthychildren.org).

Then you’ll need to check whether the doctors are approved by your current insurance, research their credentials and office hours online and factor in convenience, such as how far the doctor’s office is from your home or whether the office has evening or weekend hours.

Most parents narrow their list of possibilities to three or four, then schedule a brief meeting with the doctor to get to know the pediatrician and ask a few questions.

Here’s what to ask the doctor or office staff:

1. How long have you been practicing and do you have any sub-specialties (such as childhood obesity, diabetes or infectious diseases)?

2. How would I contact you if I have a concern? Are some questions handled by email or by a nurse practitioner?

3. In the event you aren’t available, who covers for you? If other doctors are in the practice, will we also see them on occasion?

4. What’s the process when I need to call after hours?

5. What is the scheduling process? What is the average wait time for an appointment?

6. Which medical networks and hospitals do you work with? Does your practice accept a variety of insurance plans in case our insurance coverage changes?

7. Are medical records kept electronically and how and under what circumstances are they shared?

8. How do you handle payments, billing, laboratory charges, and insurance claims?

9. How do you feel about … (fill in the blank with the medical issues that are important to you, such as immunizations, alternative medicine or prescription drug usage for kids)?

10. As a pediatrician, what are your biggest concerns about children’s health?

After the visit, ask yourself:

1. Were the waiting room and office clean and kid-friendly?

2. Was the staff efficient and attentive?

3. Did the doctor seem to welcome questions?

4. Did you and your child feel comfortable with the doctor?

5. Is there anything about the doctor or the medical practice that makes you uncomfortable?