When to E-mail Your Pediatrician
Left your child's doctor's office but forgot to ask one last question? Not to worry -- she may be just a mouse click away. More and more docs are turning to e-mail to follow up with patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come up with new guidelines for emailing your pediatrician.
* Make sure your question is appropriate. E-mailing works best for billing, scheduling visits, and nonpressing questions, says Robert Gerstle, M.D., lead author of the AAP's guidelines. But if you need a quick answer -- such as what to do about your child's 104°F fever -- use the phone.
* Follow the "one question per e-mail" rule. And keep it simple: You should be able to state your message in a paragraph. If it's more complicated, you need a phone consultation or an office visit.
* Learn the office's ways. It may take two days to get a reply, and there may occasionally be a charge, usually the equivalent of a co-pay.
* Understand privacy issues. While doctors' offices use password-protected, encrypted systems, be aware that messages usually go to a central mailbox where they're first read by a staff member.
* Follow the links. Your doctor may refer you to a website that she knows can provide reliable answers.