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Common Questions for Pediatricians | Overview

April 30, 2019

Dr. Alanna Levine is with Orangetown Pediatric Associates, a division of Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

Her approach with parents? “Do not hesitate to call when you have a question. What can be answered with a brief conversation can save you hours of needless worry.”

Dr. Levine is a big believer in the power of information, so she provides a lot of general health information on the practice’s website. “We have links to dosages for common over-the-counter medicines, age-appropriate well visit handouts, and a search box for reliable condition specific information from the American Academy of Pediatrics,” she says.

“We do this because there is so much misinformation online and we want to be sure families have access to reliable information. If your pediatrician doesn’t have a robust website, ask them for sites you should visit to get accurate up-to-date information.”

Here is some of her advice:

Don’t confuse quality with convenience

“Patients are best seen within their medical home, even if that means waiting until the next morning to see their doctor. Pediatrics is a specialty, and children are best cared for by pediatricians, not adult medicine doctors working at urgent care centers and pharmacies.”

Pediatricians always save same-day appointment spots

“If you want to be seen that day, call early to be offered a time that best fits with your schedule. The same advice goes for well visits … schedule them 1-2 months in advance so you don’t have to call in a panic that your child isn’t allowed to try out for a sport without a physical.’

Does that fever warrant a visit?

“I find many parents have ‘fever phobia.’ Fever is the body’s way of communicating to you that there is an infection. It can be caused by a virus like the common cold, a bacteria like strep throat, or other organisms. Under most circumstances for healthy children, the reason to treat the fever is to make your child feel better, not to bring the temperature to normal on a thermometer. I often tell parents that I am more concerned with how a child is looking and acting than the number on the thermometer. A sleepy, difficult-to-arouse child at 101 is more worrisome to me than a child with 104 who is happy and playful.”

When should you come in for a fever?

Most fevers can be treated at home for a few days with a few important caveats. If your child has an underlying medical condition or a suppressed immune system, call your doctor immediately. Call if your child is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 100.4 or more. If your child is lethargic, refusing fluids and is dehydrated (dry crackled lips, dry tongue, not urinating), is having increased work of breathing, is very pale or has a bluish discoloration around the lips, you need to seek medical attention immediately. My general rule of thumb is, ‘When in doubt, call and find out.'”