Parents make decisions for their children all the time. It is part of the job. Breast or bottle? Cloth or plastic? And that is just the beginning. By the time a child enters school the decisions a parent has made number well into the thousands.
Medical decisions are just part of the job description as well. Is my child sick? Does she need to go to the doctor? Should I put ointment on his cut?
Yet as soon as that child walks into a New York school, that same parent can’t approve the use of sunscreen on a school trip unless a physician signs off on it.
This upsets me on so many levels.
As a parent, I don’t understand why I can’t ask the school nurse to give my child a simple over-the-counter medication – the same medication I bought without a prescription and gave my daughter before she got on the school bus.
As a pediatrician, I can’t imagine a circumstance where sunscreen or bacitracin would be bad for a child, unless there is an allergy, which I depend on the parent to give me this kind of history anyway.
In my busy home life, I don’t need the unnecessary procedures involved with getting the doctor to sign off on over-the-counter medications.
In my busy practice life, I don’t need yet one more unnecessary piece of paper demanding my attention.
As a parent and a physician, I would like the schools and the government to remember that parents make health decisions every day, decisions much more important than sunscreen, bug spray and Tylenol.
Dr. Fierstein is a practicing pediatrician. Born in the Bronx and raised in Queens, Dr. Kerry Frommer Fierstein is a New Yorker all the way. She works at Pediatric Health Associates, PC, a division of Allied Pediatrics of New York.