My pediatrician has a separate waiting room for “well” patients and “sick” patients. I always wondered how effective this was, because it’s just separated by a glass wall – it’s not like they are separate enclosed rooms or anything. But I have to admit, it always makes me feel better to be in that well room, away from the sneezing children. I’m always a little reluctant to go into the “sick” area, even when my kids are unwell.
Well, it turns out I’m not being too paranoid. Taking your children to a pediatrician’s office for a well visit increases their chances of getting sick. It’s not surprising or rocket science – you are entering a building where there are undoubtedly the germs of sick children floating around everywhere. From Today Moms:
Children and their families had a 3.2 percent increase in flu-like infections after a child 6 or under went to a well-child visit, according to the survey data. While that increase seems small, experts estimate it amounts to about 700,000 cases of preventable flu-like infections each year.
Dr. Charles Foster, a pediatric infection disease physician at the Cleveland Clinic, says: “The risk to any individual patients is small but when you factor in how many well-child visit there are each year then they come up with a very large number.”
Well visits are very important, so doctors clearly aren’t recommending they be skipped. They insist that implementing better hygiene practices could lower the risk of spreading germs. Separate waiting areas are a good idea, as is the presence of tissues and hand sanitizers. As a parent, you may want to keep your kids away from the shared toys that are inevitably in doctor’s offices. Agreed. I hate when my kid touches those.
It may seem a little paranoid, but doctor’s offices should really offer face masks for sick children – assuming parents could get them to leave them on. I know in a way it could seem like, “big deal – it’s probably just a cold,” but after spending four days with an infant with a high fever last week, I can attest that even those no big deal colds can be really worrying. She ended up having a virus that we basically just needed to wait out, but a 103 degree fever for three days makes a parent a nervous wreck. And no one wants to see their child miserable and sick.
I may just be the paranoid parent with the kid in the face mask at the next well visit. At least until flu season is over.