Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Pulmonologist?

A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating respiratory illnesses. A pediatric pulmonologist cares for infants, children and adolescents who have breathing problems.

What is a typical new patient appointment like?

Your child's initial visit may be scheduled by you or by your child's primary care provider. Either way, we will mail you a packet of information about our practice and forms for you to complete to bring with you to your first visit. Please note prior to coming for your visit, you will need to arrange for a referral if required by your insurance.

When you arrive for the initial visit and have completed your paperwork, your child will have their height, weight and other vital signs taken. They will be taken back to an exam room by a nurse. A registered nurse will take a thorough pulmonary related history. A chest X-ray may be ordered if your child hasn’t had one before or if a previous X-ray shows a need for a follow-up test. If your child is five years of age or older, we will order Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) to measure lung function. (See "Test and Procedures”)

After the history is obtained and the testing is complete, the physician will see your child. He or she will review the history with you and your child and will complete a physical exam. The physician will explain the diagnosis, recommend medical therapy, and answer any questions that you might have. You will be given written prescriptions for any new medications along with written home care plans and medication information handouts. The entire initial visit usually takes about two hours. You may also see other pulmonary team members who help teach you how to give the recommended medical treatments (dieticians, respiratory therapist, or speech therapist).

Follow up visits will be scheduled through the appointment center as recommended by the physician.

What happens during a follow-up visit?

Follow-up visits are important to complete the diagnosis process and to make changes in your child's medications depending on how well he or she is doing. The timing of follow-up visits varies depending on the severity of your child's illness.

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) are done at almost all follow-up visits if they are able to perform the test, but most children don't need another chest X-Ray.

Please come prepared for your child's follow-up visits. You will be asked questions about how often your child has used a rescue inhaler since the last visit, how often they have missed school, how the child is doing with sports or physical activity and if there are any respiratory symptoms during sleep. It is helpful if the adult who attends the follow-up visit is very familiar with the child's day-to-day life and participates in the medical care

What is a Pulmonary Function Test?

We use special equipment and trained personnel to measure your child's breathing. These tests are called Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT's) or spirometry. Your child's test results are compared to predicted values based on your child's height, race, age and sex much like a growth curve.

These tests are easy and fun for our patients and consist primarily of taking a big breath and blowing out as fast as possible. Interactive 'breathing games' encourage our patients to give their best effort. The equipment then measures the breath and airflow comparing it to predicted values and any previous test to monitor progress.

Our physicians and their assistants are specifically trained to interpret these tests to determine the presence and progress of lung diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. These breathing tests are recognized by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as an important tool in the diagnosis and management of lung disease.

Will my child always see the same pulmonologist?

All out-patient follow-up physician visits will be scheduled with the same pulmonologist who you saw for the initial visit. If your child is admitted to the hospital and a pulmonologist is involved in the child's hospital care, your child will be seen by the ACH pulmonologist who is rounding at the hospital that day.

Both of my children see the pulmonologist. Can they be seen at the same time?

Yes, but make sure that you schedule two separate back-to-back appointments. You may contact the appointment center to ensure the children’s appointments are made on the same day. They may have appointments scheduled at different times, but you can bring them both the first scheduled appointment. For example, if one is scheduled at 9:00 a.m. and the other child at 10:00 a.m., bring them both to the 9:00 a.m. appointment.

Who should I call if my child is sick between appointments?

If your child is having serious difficulty breathing or is turning blue, you need to call 911 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

If your child is having less serious breathing trouble, coughing, wheezing or other symptoms that are related to his breathing, you should call the pulmonary office to speak with a nurse. The nurse can give you advice about changes in medications or help you decide if your child needs to be seen by a healthcare provider.

If your child is having trouble like an earache, sore throat or rash or other general illness of childhood, please call your primary care provider.

Can my child be seen for a sick visit?

Since we are not a primary care office, we don't have scheduled "sick visits". There may be sometimes that your child can be worked in to see a physician, but this is not always the case. When you contact the pulmonary office, a nurse will advise you if you need to have your child see the primary care provider or if you need to move up your regularly scheduled appointment with your pulmonologist. We send your primary care provider a written summary of your child's visits to our office, so he or she should be very familiar with your child's pulmonary care.

If I have to take my child to an emergency room for a breathing problem, will he or she be seen by the pulmonologist?

If you take your child to the ACH Emergency Room, an ACH pulmonologist will be on-call in the event that the emergency room physician needs advice about your child's pulmonary care. Most of the time, your child will be seen by the emergency room doctor and will not need to see the pulmonologist at that time. Our physicians are not available at any of the other local emergency rooms.

What if I need to get in touch with my child's pulmonologist?

If you need to speak with your child’s pulmonologist, call the pulmonary office to speak with a nurse. If the nurse cannot answer your question, they will get in touch with the doctor or have the doctor contact you.