Cold and flu season is here. This often means a trip to the pediatrician’s office, where children can be exposed to all sorts of new germs while they wait to see the doctor. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released new guidelines regarding best practices for pediatric waiting rooms and office visits. When it comes to controlling the spread of germs and infection, the office is now being held to many of the same standards as the hospital.
Dr. Priyanka Rao, clinical instructor with the department of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Hospital System, addressed the recent changes in waiting room practices. Below are some of the new protocols that you may see in place for your next office visit.
Keep it clean
Does your child have a cough, cold or other flu-like symptoms? You will be given a surgical mask at appointment check-in for your child to wear while they wait to see the doctor. If parents are sick, they will be given masks as well. Hand-sanitizing stations will also be available in waiting areas, and parents and children will be encouraged to use them.
“Our office, being affiliated with the University of Michigan, has been ahead of the curve regarding the use of surgical masks and hand sanitizers,” Rao stated.
B.Y.O.B. Bring your own books (and toys)
You won’t find teddy bears in the waiting room. All plush toys, which are difficult to clean, have been removed from pediatric offices.
“The majority of our waiting rooms do not have any toys,” Rao said. “We focus on families bringing their own toys and books.”
According to the new guidelines, pediatric offices are required to clean all items in the waiting area frequently with a product that kills germs.
Rao praised the efforts of personnel to keep the pediatric office sanitized. “Our staff does an awesome job cleaning the waiting rooms.”
All healthcare providers and office employees are now required to have mandatory flu shots, along with updated immunization to pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and hepatitis B.
Elbows, not hands
Offices are required to change their signage to reflect the concerns of the season. Rao noted that informational posters are on display to educate parents and children on good coughing and sneezing etiquette. Coughing and sneezing into elbows is preferable to covering with hands, which will likely spread germs to everything that is touched.
Keep them close
New guidelines suggest that parents keep their children in strollers and car seats while waiting to see the doctor. This helps to minimize exposure between patients, thus preventing the spread of infection.
Wash! Wash! Wash!
Rao had one more bit of advice to keep kids healthy during cold and flu season.