A prescription for some of Sanford’s walk-in clinic doctors…

Moms know their kids.  They know when their kids are not feeling well or acting differently.  The same with dads – they know when something is just not right.  This is the reality of raising children – you as the parent are closest to them.

When kids are sick, parents do what they should do – they take their children to the doctor’s office.  Sometimes that means trips to the walk-in clinic.  This often means that the doctor the child sees is not their primary care pediatrician.

But the theory is that copious notes in charts capture all things that are relevant and these charts are always available to the nurses and doctors seeing patients.  Diagnosis, treatment, recommendations for follow-up care – it is all in there. Often a young child patient’s chart will capture the detailed symptoms as reported by the parent.  The observed symptoms are particularly important for the youngest children as they do not have the communication skills to share what they are feeling.  Plus, parents typically know their child’s daily behavior, sensitivities, and health history front to back – what better resource for information can you find to facilitate the swift application of the available medical expertise, tools, and technology? I’d say none.  Parents know their kids.

My grand baby Lennon has recently been quite sick.  He has been to Sanford’s walk-in clinic multiple times.  My daughter Sarah kept taking him as his condition became worse and as it appeared he had the flu.  The doctors who saw Lennon kept telling my daughter all he had was an ear infection and that was what was causing all his flu-like symptoms.  He did have an ear infection that was diagnosed awhile earlier and was being treated, but as the symptoms changed and worsened and he was taken back in the walk-in doctors seemed stuck on the ear infection script.  This was despite the fact that Sarah explained that 3/4 of the infants at daycare were out sick – a couple of which were confirmed as having contracted Influenza A.

Each day Lennon became a little more dehydrated.  He was not eating normally – indeed, he was not eating at all and barely taking in any fluids.  He was not his normal cheery self.  His primary “meal” became force fed Pedialyte.  He wasn’t urinating normally. Then he started vomiting.  My daughter went back to the clinic a final time and the doctor told her again that it was just an ear infection.

I must confess – I was becoming very worried.  I have raised four kids – I have seen things, experienced things – it was clear that Lennon was a sick little boy that needed more advanced care than an antibiotic for an ear infection.  I stayed home from the university on Monday to watch him myself and that only confirmed my concerns. I did not think he could go on much longer like he was – not eating and not retaining fluids.  He isn’t even seven months old yet.

Tonight Lennon is in the hospital where they are re-hydrating him.  He is there because Sarah pushed to get him in to see his normal pediatrician and the pediatrician she saw actually paid attention to what Sarah was saying and had him admitted.  Had Sarah not continued pushing I have no idea how severe this situation could have become.  I believe the folks that saw Lennon in Sanford’s walk-in clinic let him down.  They forget a key tenet in caring for children – parents know their children best.

Sarah is a meticulous new mother.  She tracks how much Lennon eats, can tell you his exact schedule, has read every single thing she can get her hands on about raising a happy, healthy baby, and even knows every conceivable thing about his personality and characteristics.  She knows Lennon better than anyone.  I think the walk-in doctors dismissed her as a nervous parent and just kept reiterating the same message, patting her on the head, and sending her on her way.  They did not listen to her.

Well, I have a message for the Sanford walk-in doctors who provided what I believe was substandard care – and I suggest you listen to me because I will not be ignored, patted on the head and sent on my way.  Count your blessings that a pediatrician who had her wits about her stepped in to remedy the situation before it became even more serious.  Make a mental note today that parents know their children best and that they should not be ignored when they are actively seeking help to remedy their child’s medical condition.  For heaven’s sake, people count on you! Take the time to really listen.  There are thousands of stories over the decades wherein a parent’s nagging intuition about something proved to be right.  Surely, you learned that in medical school.

You may also want to note that you were about a hair away from dealing with me personally, which I promise you would not have been enjoyable.  You see, I trusted you Sanford to provide a quality level of care. As Lennon became sicker and sicker I encouraged Sarah to take him back in – I told her to carefully explain all the symptoms, clarify her concern about dehydration, etc.  I sent my baby with her baby to you for help and you flubbed it up.   If we would have only relied on what you had to say there is no telling how much more dehydrated or ill Lennon would have become.  That is unacceptable.  You are not a profession wherein a mistake may result in the loss of some monetary assets; you are in a profession that deals with people’s lives.  A mistake could result in grave illness or death.

Don’t let this happen again.  Listen to what people who are close to the patient are telling you, or get ready to deal with very irritated, forceful, and outspoken glammas like me.  Trust me, you are better off doing the former.

Day one thousand two hundred and eighty-two of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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6 Responses to A prescription for some of Sanford’s walk-in clinic doctors…

  1. B-dubya says:

    I hope that the staff at Sanford pays serious attention to this. NO parent should EVER have to go through this on top of being being worried sick for days! Hugs to sweet little Lennon AND his mom and glamma!

  2. Avatar of stormchaser stormchaser says:

    I no longer trust walk in clinics. I was at a local one last week and the doctor there told me I’m not pregnant. Well, like usual, he was wrong. You just can’t trust those places. The guy I saw wasn’t even an actual doctor. Just a Physicians Assistant.

  3. Chuck says:

    I am a retired AF Medic w 23 yrs service. I had a similar experience almost 40 yrs ago in PA on leave. People need to be aware that doctors are not all good at what they do, some are only in it for the pay. Thank you

  4. Nigel says:

    I went to a Meritcare (Sanford) walk-in clinic years ago and they told me I was constipated. Twice. Turned out I had appendicitis…

  5. Eric says:

    So, say that Sanford’s Walk-In Clinic physicians take your advice to heart. What are you suggesting they do differently? I am reading a lot of mother grizzly posturing about how tough you are to deal with, but I don’t understand what you think you would gain or how your grandson’s care would be improved if those doctors were to actually listen to you.

    Did you want the doctors to accept your layperson’s diagnosis over what their years of training and experience are showing them? Okay, done. Your grandson has the flu. Now what? There are no medications to treat the flu. It’s a virus. Unless he spikes a dangerously high fever or gets severely dehydrated, what are you expecting a doctor to do for you, or for him? Should the doctor give him IV fluids before he needs them? Maybe some unnecessary prescription drug? What exactly do you want the doctor to do? You’re the boss, remember?

    The doctors do the best they can with what they are presented every day. For every ‘nagging intuition’ doctors listen to that turns out to be useful, there are a thousand more that are nothing but the ignorant ravings of a stressed, and understandably concerned parent. Or grandma.

    I hope the little guy is feeling better.

    • Joe Henry says:

      Well apparently they don’t always listen . Our baby’s baby had a similar problem at Sanford in SD. Doctors do not always listen. His journey took several months of fevers and repeat trips back to the doctor. Finally after switching to another clinic in Souix Falls the problem was identified. She finally found a doctor who listened. The truly good ones do. It is sickening to think that young children are at the mercy of poor health professionals. Grandpa J

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