A Pediatrician's Guide to Telehealth

Dr. Lyndsey Garbi
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Have you ever waited in the emergency room for hours, then when you finally see a doctor, they tell you there is nothing they can do? Then you get a bill for the expensive inconvenience. There are naturally going to be times when a full physical exam and assessment of a situation will need to be face-to-face. Virtual visits through a telehealth platform help if you are unsure whether your child needs an in-person exam or to go to an ER immediately. Don't waste time sitting in a waiting room for hours worrying. Blueberry will help you figure it out!

When Should My Child Be Seen in Person?

1. Serious injuries

Some cuts need to be sutured, and bones may need an x-ray to determine the extent of an injury. If your child hits their head and shows symptoms that could be dangerous, we will always be cautious about never missing serious life-altering damage and will ask you to be assessed with the possible need for imaging. We will also guide you to determine when cuts are deep enough to warrant sutures or glue at an urgent care or ER.

2. Chronic Conditions

If you see a subspecialist, such as a neurologist or cardiologist, who regularly manages a chronic condition, such as a congenital heart defect, growth delay, ADHD, or neurologic issues, these are best handled by someone who knows your child well. They change medication dosages and understand the challenges of the condition.

3. Acute breathing problems

Asthma exacerbations, bad case of croup, and bronchiolitis all require an in-person lung exam to ensure that your child receives the best care quickly. Breathing problems are serious, and we don't want to waste time. Viruses cause most of these issues, and they do not need antibiotics as a cure. Instead, they need supportive management, which means either inhaled medications or oral steroids with close follow-ups to ensure hospitalization is unnecessary.

4. Small babies

If your three-month-old or younger has a fever, then they need to be seen in person. Babies do not have fully developed immune systems and are at risk for bad complications should a diagnosis be missed. There is no room for error with these precious bundles.

5. Severe pain

Kids sometimes experience abdominal, groin, back, or neck pain that suggests an issue that needs imaging and maybe even surgery. We can help walk you through an exam at home to determine if the pain warrants an ER visit. It may be essential to get to an ER or urgent care immediately for issues such as appendicitis or testicular torsion.

6. Severe allergic reactions/anaphylaxis

If your child experiences an allergic reaction to a food, medication, or a bee sting, you can sometimes manage this at home. However, an allergic reaction may escalate over the next few minutes or hours, and delaying care can be devastating. Through constant communication, Blueberry doctors will assess the situation. We will refer you to be seen in person if it looks like there is an anaphylactic reaction occurring.

7. Inability to get a proper exam

Unlike other telehealth companies, Blueberry provides a smart otoscope, a tool that helps you look in your child's ears and diagnose an ear infection. However, little kids are not always cooperative, and it can be tough sometimes to get the proper view we need to prescribe an antibiotic. If this is the case, we have you see a pediatrician to get a proper exam. We maintain a very high standard of practice which means we only prescribe antibiotics when identifying the exact infection we are treating.

8. Lab work for chronic illnesses

We have the ability to send you to a lab for certain bloodwork and other lab specimens. However, prescriptions for bloodwork for a chronic illness requires a specialist to follow the results and counsel thereafter. As always, we will be on the line 24/7 to guide you in these times.

You never have to be alone trying to figure out the next steps in your child's care. That's what we are here for!