How Would a Doctor Treat Their Own Child?

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I thought I was a pretty good doctor and surgeon after receiving years of schooling and training especially from renowned institutions. However, it was ONLY after I became a mother, that I understood that I needed to be an even better doctor and surgeon, and that no one can be too “good” for your own child. I understood what medical school, residency, and fellowship didn't teach: that when it is your own child, suddenly, the recommendations you make to all other parents and caretakers may not be what you would do if it were your own child. The years of western training of prescribing medications, and the various surgical procedures that although provide benefits, suddenly all required significant scrutiny before I could make recommendations to others. What parents and families deserve is a doctor who treats their child as if he/she was their own child.

I joined Nemours Children's Hospital in 2013, and committed my skills and passion to help Floridian children because the motto of our hospital and organization is “Your child, our promise”—our promise to treat your child as if he/she were our own. 

Several years ago, I was at yet another national meeting with many ear, nose, and throat surgeons, including those that only treat children, and listening to an esteemed panel of surgeons discuss a variety of surgeries that can be performed to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Thankfully for pediatric ENTs, most of the time, removing tonsils and adenoid is enough to resolve the problems. However, as I watched the videos and slides in a hotel ballroom with hundreds of others, and listened to various surgeons describe the not so common but incredible surgeries available, including reducing base of tongue, various forms of trimming the “soft palate” or “Uvulopalatoplasty”, pulling the tongue forward with “hyoid cartilage/bone suspension”, inserting objects into the tonsillar pillars to make them stiff, and the now exciting innovative implantable devices that move the tongue forward to prevent it from blocking the airway (by the way, most of these procedures are recommended or FDA approved for adults, not necessarily for children), I wanted to ask every panelist one question, “Would you do that to your own child?” 

Please know that in no way am I questioning the intent and skills of my colleagues. These are renowned surgeons who are well known, respected, and care deeply about patients and education. However, my perspective on how I can be the “best” doctor and surgeon changed significantly because of my daughter, Claire. 

I demand of myself to always think about ways to help children and families that do not involve medications and surgeries, because every treatment has risks and consequences. Even when surgeons never intend to cause harm, sometimes outcomes are not perfect, or complications occur beyond the control of the surgeon. When doctors prescribe medications to young children for presumed asthma, allergies, sinus or ear infections, do they take the time to discuss the alternatives? Do they explain the possible side effects? How many doctors actively take children off of medications, especially if their symptoms are not better?

A Healthier Wei and Acid Reflux in Children were written specifically to provide alternative ways to improve a child’s health and relieve symptoms that even medications can’t. Every day with every parent/caretaker that I meet in the clinic, I only make recommendations and treatments that I WOULD do to my own child, knowing what I know, based on my experience and knowledge, and most of all, always with the greatest benefit to risk ratio.  

Always ask your child’s doctor, “What would you do if he/she was your own child? Would you prescribe these medications (or surgery) if this was your child?” 

While I will answer you, and most of the time the answer will be “yes”, I promise you there will be times that I and other doctors simply can’t tell you because it’s unclear, uncharted territory, or the condition is incredibly complex and influenced by too many factors beyond a doctor’s control.  

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