Definition and Overview
Pediatric consultation is a common medical process that involves the assessment and diagnosis of conditions affecting children and, to a certain extent, teens, as well as the management of the overall health and wellness of the patients through certain preventative measures.
Pediatrics is a branch of medicine that deals with the medical needs of children. A doctor who specializes in it is called a pediatrician. Pediatricians spend many years of education and training in the field. They begin with 4 years in undergraduate studies and another 4 years in medical school. They then enter into a residency program of an accredited hospital for the next 3 years. After that, they take the board exam for certification.
Pediatrics also has subspecialties, including but not limited to oncology, cardiology, nephrology, neurology, and even psychology. Subspecializing requires additional years in a fellowship program.
The intensive training, however, is incredibly necessary since children as patients are different from the adults. Since their physiology varies, their medical needs and the conditions that commonly affect them may not be seen in adults. For instance, congenital deformities are more common in pediatrics than in internal medicine.
Further, as childhood is a critical stage, pediatricians should closely monitor the growth and development of their patients, which would mean strict regular visits.
The psychology of children also varies from that of the adults. Children often don’t have a deep grasp of pain and illness. Many also don’t know how to express their symptoms, and the lack of understanding often forces them to throw tantrums or withdraw themselves from others. Pediatricians, therefore, should have the skill to establish a good relationship not only with the parents but also with the children, aside from in-depth medical knowledge and expertise.
Lastly, minors, in the legal sense, don’t have the capacity to make decisions by themselves and thus pediatricians also have to work closely with their parents and guardians.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Pediatric consultations are intended for children who are 0 to 12 years old, although many doctors these days also take care of teens and young adults up to 20 years old. After such age, they normally seek out an internist, who specializes in adult medicine, although some would retain their family care physician.
Pediatric consultations may be carried out for:
Immunization – Immunization refers to the prevention of a particular disease by helping the body develop immunity against the pathogen that causes it. Vaccination is one of the most common forms of immunization. Children require vaccination against diseases such as measles, smallpox, rubella, diphtheria, and hepatitis, among others. As they grow older, they would receive booster shots as means of reinforcing the effects of the first round of vaccination. The pediatrician usually gives out a card that will help the parents keep track of the vaccination schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a printable copy.
Treatment of congenital deformities – Not all congenital deformities need to be treated, especially if they don’t cause any pain or have the potential to limit the functions and mobility of the body. But if they have to be corrected, children may have to undergo excision removal or surgery, in which case the pediatrician has to collaborate with a surgeon and other specialists. Many of these abnormalities should be corrected while the child is still young to promote a more normal growth and development.
Prevention of disease – Pediatricians do not only treat diseases, but they also prevent them. Usually, children have to be brought to the clinic or hospital for annual checkups. In this manner too, the doctor can monitor the growth and development of the child.
Substance abuse services – As more teens are becoming addicted to different substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, a number of pediatricians are also training themselves to help their patients out clinically. They also work alongside social workers and psychologists for the complete rehabilitation of the patient.
Special gynecologic service – Pediatricians are not gynecologists whose job requires taking care of pregnant women and the babies in the womb. However, if a delivery may have some impact on the newborn (neonate) later, pediatricians may be asked to collaborate with gynecologists and obstetricians.
Psychiatric and behavioral therapy – Pediatric consultation may also be undertaken by children who are showing early signs of mental problems such as schizophrenia. Disorders such as autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) usually manifest during the early years of the child.
Simple cases such as colds and flu can often be treated with one or two visits to the pediatrician. However, for the overall wellness of the child, visiting the doctor should be a regular habit even without any symptom.
How Does the Procedure Work?
A child’s relationship with the pediatrician begins as soon as he or she is born. Parents are expected to already have one prior to their delivery. Otherwise, the in-house (hospital) pediatrician will be the first one to check on the newborn’s health until the parent finds a more preferred doctor.
A number of pediatricians work in an outpatient setting or have their own clinics. Parents will be instructed on the best times to take their child for a visit with the pediatrician.
A huge part of the pediatric consultation is called the well-child visit. This refers to a point where children have to see their doctor several times within a year. It starts by the time the child is born until he or she is around 5 years old. Each appointment would include a thorough physical exam and counselling. The doctor can provide the parents much-needed information on anything that concerns the child such as nutrition, sleep, and mental and physical development. The doctor can also provide preventive tips to increase the child’s immunity. During these visits, immunization or vaccination may be provided.
After 5 years old, the child may see the doctor annually for regular checkup unless the child requires urgent or emergency care.
Pediatric consultations may also be performed while the child is in the hospital. The doctor will monitor the child’s response to treatment such as medications or surgery. Consultations also happen 2 to 3 days after the child has been discharged from the hospital.
Possible Risks and Complications
One of the main goals of pediatric consultation is to prevent unnecessary testing on children, which may only introduce pain or discomfort to them. The process itself, therefore, doesn’t have any serious risk. However, as part of the protocol, certain physical exams and vaccination, among others, may be required to ensure their health and these could be uncomfortable for children.