How long did the pediatrician spend with your child at their last check-up?
For a third of children, the answer is 10 minutes or less, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of California surveyed 2,000 families with kids aged 4 months to 2 years, and asked about their typical pediatrician's visit. The good news is, most parents reported being satisfied with their kids' care. But experts worry that these quickie visits could be hazardous to children's health, especially down the road.
If your pediatrician's office is busy, you've probably experienced the "drive-by checkup." I remember waiting for what seemed like forever for the doctor to see my then-5-month-old. I worried about whether he was gaining enough weight, plus had a few dozen other questions. Finally the doctor walked in, gently squeezed Eli's pudgy thigh, declared, "This is a healthy baby," and walked out. Perhaps we exchanged a few more words, but not many.
I was steamed. But in retrospect I realize that it was a busy winter day and that doctor probably had dozens more kids waiting to see him -- some of whom might have been really sick. And with the benefit of 30+ years experience, this particular doctor could tell at a glance that all was well with Eli. In this case it was mom, not baby, who needed more attention. (This doctor forever redeemed himself when he personally returned my phone call about a fever on a Saturday night -- and called Sunday to follow up.)
Now I schedule routine visits with the certified nurse practitioner in the office, who has a more leisurely bedside manager. I also avoid afternoon appointments during cold season.
But for parents and kids stuck with rushed visits, consequences could be dire. Researchers warn that behavior problems and complicated developmental issues often get short shrift in short visits, and that can lead to bigger problems down the line.
"We know a significant majority of parents coming into visits have concerns for child's behavior," Dr. Paul Dworkin, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, told My Health News Daily. "A similar percentage leave the office with concerns for their children's behavior. Behavioral concerns are not being effectively identified."
For researchers, this means reason to investigate further -- are quickie visits really affecting kids' health? For parents, finding the right pediatrician means finding one who doesn't make you feel rushed -- whether a checkup takes 10 minutes or an hour.
What about you? How long did your most recent pediatrician's visit last -- and was it long enough to address all your concerns? Do you feel rushed at your pediatrician's office?