If you have recently had a baby that was born earlier than expected and needed to spend time in the NICU, you may find that choosing a primary care physician for your little one is quite challenging. For instance, it's best to verify that the doctor has experience with premature babies, especially if your infant experienced complications from being born early. In addition, premature infants are often more likely to get sick due to their immature immune systems, so choosing a doctor with extended office hours or an emergency after-hours contact system will be useful. A third consideration pertains to medically complicated infants, as the physician's familiarity with nearby medical specialists can make it easier to obtain the appropriate care for your baby. Therefore, when you need to know that you have chosen the most appropriate primary care physician for your premature baby, asking the following questions of each candidate will be quite helpful.
#1-How Much Experience Does The Physician Have With Preemies Similar To Your Own?
It's important to note that premature delivery of a baby is a bit of a catch-all description that can include all babies born prior to about 37 weeks of gestation. However, babies born at 36 or 37 weeks of pregnancy and are otherwise healthy don't always need to spend much time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which is also known as the NICU. In comparison, a micro-premie can be defined as a baby born before 26 weeks of pregnancy or who is born weighing one pound, twelve ounces or less. Babies that small have much lower survival rates, will need to spend a long time in the hospital and are at a higher risk of having significant health problems.
As you can see, it's best to not simply choose a primary care doctor for your premature baby with experience with preemies. Instead, you should verify the extent of his or her experience with babies born at similar gestations and with similar medical histories to your son or daughter.
#2-How Easy Is It To Get A Quick Appointment Or An After-hours Consultation?
As mentioned previously, babies born early often have compromised immune systems and the earlier an infant is born, the more likely he or she is to have that issue. As a result, you need to know that you can speak with a doctor on call when your baby seems to be getting sick and get prompt medical care.
One option that many doctors have is an on-call nurse or other medical professional who can advise you what to do and speak with the doctor on your behalf if the situation warrants. In addition, extended office hours, including weekends, may also be an option. Being able to have your baby seen by his or her regular doctor for medical problems that are not life-threatening is crucial, since taking a baby with a compromised immune system to the emergency room where many germs are present should be avoided whenever possible.
#3-Will Your Doctor Recommend The Specialists Your Child Might Need?
Since many babies born early experience issues with their hearing, vision, development and internal organs, you might be spending a lot of time with your son or daughter in medical appointments in the first few months or years of your child's life. In addition, physical therapy is often recommended to help premature infants meet their developmental goals and to become healthier.
Therefore, it's a good idea to determine if your baby's physician is familiar with and able to recommend different specialists that your baby might need. If so, that is a good opportunity to determine who those professionals are and why your child's primary care doctor is comfortable recommending them.
In conclusion, a primary care physician is important for everyone, but can be especially so for premature babies. As a result, it's a good idea to ask the above questions when you are choosing the right medical professional for your premature baby for the foreseeable future.