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Q&A – Should I Switch Doctors?

doctor_infant

Question from Katie

We’re struggling with [my preemie’s] doctors right now.  We’re in _____, and the only doctors that work with the NICU are in one BIG office.  So far we haven’t been able to see the same doctor, nor talk to the same nurses when we call with questions.  They keep telling us that ALL the doctors in the office meet and discuss each NICU patient, but the one doctor we were able to get in to see (for her 1 week post NICU visit) didn’t even have any records for her yet.  I’m frustrated that I can’t see the same doctor every time–so that I feel like he really knows her and her unique issues.   I am also worried because the clinic is SO busy with kids.  They made her appointment at a time when they say they make all newborn appts to cut down on risk of getting sick, but there were still like 15 other kids there.  They just don’t understand preemies and the fear that creates.

No one at the clinic can seem to tell me how the Synagis RSV shots are billed (nor our insurance co.), so I can’t find out if we are covered or not.  Did you get the Synagis shots for your kids?  Do they really make a difference?   I just feel like I have so many questions…and am not getting any answers.  I feel completely let down by the doctors.  I almost feel like we don’t have any real support or guidance.  I’m not sure whether it would be better to switch to another doctor with less experience with a preemie, or just stick with this clinic and try to make them understand my frustrations.  I don’t feel really comfortable with any of the doctors here….it honestly doesn’t seem like there is a good doctor in this town!  So I find myself questioning everything they tell me…especially when I read about other approaches online that seem to be working better.

Any advice you have would be so helpful!  Also, can you tell me what preemie forums you use?  I’ve been searching for some, but haven’t really found a great one yet.

Answer from Afton

Oh man, I was so angry when I brought my brand new preemie baby to her first appointment after bring her home and the room was full of kids and the clinic had no Well-Patient Room where I could wait to protect my girl.  They would not let me wait in any empty rooms either.  I was very put off by their lack of concern for my baby’s protection.  Luckily, we moved out of the state only a few months later.

It’s awful that you haven’t seen the same doctor each time you bring your baby into the clinic.  I hate feeling like you have to start all over again every single visit.  Have you requested to see only one doctor, and do they even allow that at all or is it their policy to rotate?  I have not dealt with this for my preemie, but I have dealth with it during my high-risk pregnancy and it was horrible.

I know you said that the clinic you’re going to works with the NICU directly, but I don’t think that necessarily means that the doctors at another clinic don’t have any experience with preemies.  I know it’s nice to know that the doctors work with the NICU, but since your baby’s out of the NICU now it is a bit different.  I strongly suggest that you call the other clinic in your town and ask specifically if any of the doctors have had training or experience working with preemie babies, and if they have you could request a consultation with them to see how you feel about the doctors and the clinic.  Also, be sure to ask if they will let you see the same doctor for every visit.  In my experience, smaller clinics are much more friendly and helpful on an individual basis.  I think it’s worth looking into, seriously.

Regarding the Synagis shot, yes, my girl did get the Synagis her first year home.  She got the shot every month from November to April, and because we kept her strictly quarantined the entire winter as well I can’t tell you honestly how well they worked.  However, she stayed healthy the entire season and it was such a relief.  Whether it was because of the quarantine or the shot or the combination of the two I don’t know.  But I think any precaution you can take to protect your preemie, especially the first year, is worth it.  If she did get seriously ill and you weren’t getting the shots you would never forgive yourself.  It will give you peace of mind to get them if she qualifies.

Also, we were on Medicaid when my preemie was born and they covered the Synagis entirely.  But, I remember our insurance did cover a large portion of them as well.  Did you call  your insurance company and ask them specifically about the Synagis?  If whoever you talked to didn’t know then I recommend you call again and keep requesting someone else to talk to, or a supervisor, until you get a solid answer about it.  I can’t imagine they wouldn’t know if they covered it or not, or how much they would cover.  My insurance company told me exactly how much the shot would cost and how much they would cover.

I’m sorry that you feel unsupported in your situation, especially by the clinic you’re going to currently.  I definitely recommend shopping around for a clinic you like and feel comfortable with.  It’s so worth it to feel like your doctors know you and your child and are doing all they can to support you.  During my most recent pregnancy I switched doctors 3 times until I found a doctor I felt I could trust and who respected my wishes.

As far as forums go, my favorite is on thebump.com – the preemies group.  You should check it out.

Good luck to you and let me know if there’s anything else I can do!

To my readers: do you have any further insight for Katie?  Please share your knowledge and advice in the comments.

Related Posts: Visiting the Pediatrician at Home, What is RSV and When is RSV Season?

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.

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