Does my child really need an antibiotic?
5 statements to help prevent overprescribing
Doctors complain about patient demands. Patients sometimes complain that doctors don’t give them what they want.
A recent study done in the adult oncology world and published in JAMA, found that doctors had a perception that patients were demanding extra treatment and testing. Review of the patient encounters showed that doctors perceived demands that did not actually occur. Many of the requests that did occur were medically appropriate.
In pediatrics, the most common issue where this comes to a head is the desire to give children antibiotics. It can also play out in other areas as well. Another common one that comes to mind is request for further testing for diagnosis.
Fortunately, in my experience, parents are becoming more informed about what situations require antibiotics and which illnesses will pass with a little time and TLC.
The problem is that many doctors have gotten into the unfortunate habit of wanting to provide what the parents are requesting without actually asking the parent what they expect. Doctors may perceive that parents want antibiotics or further testing when, in fact, they simply want reassurance that waiting is OK. This becomes a particular problem in urgent care or retail clinics where patient satisfaction plays a bigger role in getting patients to come back and see you.
So, how can you prevent this from happening to you?
Here are five casual statements that you might use the next time you visit the doctor to help them understand your expectations:
1. I’m pretty sure I’m just over concerned. I just wanted you to check things out so I can be sure.
2. I don’t really like to give my kids medicine but I wanted your opinion about what we should do next.
3. I’m totally OK with waiting, if that’s what you think is best.
4. What would you do if it were your child?
5. Are there other things we can try first or other options?
Your doctor should not feel threatened by these statements. If antibiotics are the only right choice, they should be able to explain the reasons why that is.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page. He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.