• Emergency Etiquette: Is It Okay to Call your Pedia After Clinic Hours?

    When you’re in a panic, is it okay to call your OB-Gyn, your child’s pedia, or his teacher?
    by Ines Bautista-Yao .
  • emergency

    Photo from chicagotribune.com

    If you’re like me, your child is the most important person in your life, and you expect it to be that way for everyone else as well: her pediatrician, tutor, teacher, and even her ballet instructor. If you really think about it, however, your child isn’t the only patient or student of these professionals. They have several parents to deal with, not to mention their own lives to lead as well. Is it okay to phone the doc at 2 a.m.? Here’s what the pros say.

    1. Nagging questions
    Sometimes, there’s something you just need to know and you need to know it now -- like when your child’s next shot will be because you just read about vaccines online, or what dosage of paracetamol to give. Problem is, these questions pop into your head way after clinic hours, like at 10 p.m. Her pedia must still be awake, right?

    PRO SPEAK: When it comes to questions at ungodly hours, there is a rule, according to Anna Lopez-Gabriel, M.D., an active member of the Department of Pediatrics in Makati Medical Center and owner of MommyDepotOnline. “Sudden fever, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, trauma such as falls or cuts, loss of consciousness, seizures, and severe tummy pain are situations we understand, so we will gladly take the call anytime of the day because that’s part of our job,” she says. She adds, however, that if it is really alarming, you should head straight to the E.R. instead of waiting for the doctor to pick up her phone.

    Dr. Lopez-Gabriel says, “I always tell my patients, ‘I’d prefer that you call me if you are unsure of what to do rather than do something that may harm your child.’ Having said that, there are some who think that we are on-call for whatever question pops in their heads at 2 a.m. or that we memorize every single detail on their kids’ chart.” If it isn’t an emergency, wait till the next clinic visit or consult the baby book because most details, such as dosage, immunizations, and even schedules, should be there.

    2. Preggy problems
    When you’re pregnant, there are so many things you aren’t allowed to do or eat. When faced with uncertainty, especially when you’re about to put the food in your mouth or the product on your skin, isn’t it easy to text your OB first and ask?

    PRO SPEAK: Of course it’s okay to ask, but according to obstetrician-gynecologist Jaydee Vila-Inkee, M.D., active consultant at Cardinal Santos Medical Center, it’s not okay to do so late at night. “I can tolerate these queries and quickly reply to them, but not at an ungodly hour,” she says. “Even if I am awake and still working, I do not respond. I answer them the following morning instead, or in my free time. I make sure to tell them I did not reply immediately because their concern was not an emergency.”

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    3. Text consultations
    When your friend has a female medical problem, you offer to consult your OB to find out how she can get better. It may be a pressing concern to you, but this may put your doctor in a tight spot.

    PRO SPEAK: It is not okay to ask for a diagnosis of someone else’s medical problems through text or e-mail, no matter how urgent. Dr. Vila-Inkee says it isn’t about the consultation fee, but more about a possible misdiagnosis. “Coming up with a correct diagnosis necessitates not just the history of the patient but also a complete physical examination,” she explains. “Misdiagnosis can compromise both the patient’s health and the physician’s integrity.”

    4. Tutor as guardian
    You didn’t get to do the parent-child assignment that’s due tomorrow. Is it okay to ask the tutor to do it for you instead? Can she also sign reply slips on your behalf?

    PRO SPEAK: When it comes to a parent-child activity, tutor Alison Tan* says parents must really find the time to do it. She says, “These parent-child activities are supposed to foster bonding. What’s worse is that the child knows the parent didn’t do it with him.”

    When it comes to signing reply slips and assignment notebooks, Tan doesn’t mind doing so and listing herself as guardian once in a while, but again, she says there’s a reason these are being asked of the parents. “They should exert more effort with their kids,” she adds.

    5. Rule-stretching
    You’re running late and your child is still in school, so you text his teacher to request her to look after your kid first. Or you’re late for a PTC and you expect the teachers to extend the time allotted for you. You do have your reasons, right?

    PRO SPEAK: According to teacher Ina Syquia, directress of 9th Avenue School, parents are informed that they must pick up their kids 15 minutes after class at the latest “because the teacher needs to plan for the next class.” When the wait time of 15 minutes is up, the teacher usually asks the school staff to watch over the child. But they may also have other duties or may need to take their break. Teacher Ina advises that parents be professional. “It should boil down to what is best for the child,” she adds—and being on time is important.

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