By Lela Mayers, M.D., M.P.H.

Tips for Choosing the Best Doctor for Your Child

March 20, 2014   |  Doctors & Medical Providers  

When searching for doctors to treat your child with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there are specific attributes you may want to look for, such as office wheelchair accessibility. Others, like cancellation policies, are universal but take on greater significance for a family of a person with special needs, whose day-to-day lives can be less predictable. Lela Mayers, M.D., M.P.H., chief of medicine at Premier HealthCare in New York City, gives you the right questions to start with.

doctor

Physical Accommodations

• Is it accessible?
• Is there an elevator? If so, what is the plan for when the elevator is not working?
• Do they have scales to weigh patients with different levels of mobility?
• Are there exam tables to accommodate patients with special needs?
• What about patients with visual and hearing impairments?

Relevant Policies

• Will I be charged if I cancel an appointment at the last minute?
• How can I get my sick family member seen as soon as possible?  
• Is there a doctor on call who will be familiar with my child’s special needs? (Many physicians share call with unrelated groups.)

Procedural Considerations

• What if any training is given to staff regarding providing care for patients with developmental disabilities?
• What do you do if a patient becomes agitated or combative in the waiting room?  
• How do you draw blood or give shots if a patient with a developmental disability objects?
• Do you have or participate in any programs to help desensitize a patient to these more invasive procedures?

Future Referrals

• Do you have a network of specialists who are familiar with caring for people with disabilities?  
• Would you be willing to develop one?  

Transitional

• Do you have experience working with residences?  
• How do you follow patients in and out of the hospital?

Many offices will have no answers to these questions, but the manner in which they address your concerns will give you a lot of insight into how they will treat your family member, both medically and as a person.

 

Learn more about transitioning your child from pediatrician to adult health care here.

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