Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Specialists in the hospital

Beyond the neonatologist, your baby may be seen by other specialists while he/she is in the NICU. Most NICUs have an occupational therapist, physical therapist, nutritionist, gastroenterologist, optometrist, pulmonologist, and cardiologist that are available to work with babies as needed. These specialists can bring a lot of valuable information and insight to your babies condition and care. Here are some tips for working with these specialists:

1) Ask. Ask your baby's nurse if anyone has or will be seeing your baby that day. If the specialist is coming for a specific issue/problem than the nurse should know. The OT, PT and nutritionist often have regular hours that they are in the NICU so find out if any of them have come to check on your baby. The opthamologist should also have regular times that he/she comes in to do exams. Some of the other specialists may only come in on an as needed basis.

2) Notes. Anytime a specialist comes to see your baby, they will at least make a note in his/her chart. Depending on need, they may also leave a note for you. If you know that someone has been by to see your baby - ask what notes/comments were made. Depending on the specialist, they may make changes to your baby's feeding, routine, etc. Feel free to ask questions about those changes.

3) Talk to them. If you want to speak to the specialist, let the nurse know. They can often help arrange for you to speak to them. It can be extremely helpful to meet with the specialist while they are examining your baby so you can ask questions and get an idea of your baby's status. If the specialist doesn't work directly in the hospital, find out how you can contact them to ask follow-up questions.

4) Follow-up. If your baby is going to need continued care from a specialist outside of the NICU , find out if they are available for follow-up appointments. It is often really helpful to have continuity from the NICU to home.

The specialists are a great addition to the team of doctors who already take care of your baby. Make sure you take advantage of them!

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