Pediatrician or a neonatologist: What's the difference?

Pediatrician or a Neonatologist: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the role a physician plays in your child’s life is essential. Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh are a leading medical-legal lawyer firm here in Toronto. We work closely with families as they take on cases revolving around the medical world and support you in better understanding the role everybody takes on during a child’s birth and subsequent care.

Throughout our time as medical-legal lawyers, we have developed a lengthy history of successful cases. We believe that one of the advantages we provide our clients is transparency and information.

Here, we will discuss the jobs of pediatricians and neonatologists. We invite you to reach out if you have any legal questions regarding your experience with either.

What is a Pediatrician?

A pediatrician is a medical doctor, much the same as your family doctor. He or she went to medical school, studied science, completed a second university degree in medicine, interned as a doctor through a residency, and became a fully-fledged physician specializing in children’s care.

Within the world of pediatrics, there are multiple subspecialties, including:

  • Cardiology
  • Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Critical Care
  • Endocrinology
  • Nephrology
  • Hematology

A pediatrician can extend their education through specialization courses and programs and choose to work as a general pediatrician with their medical degree. The specialization they choose will determine whether additional certification is required.

What is a Neonatologist?

One of the subspecialties within the realm of pediatrics is called Neonatal care. A pediatrician specializing in neonatology takes on an additional three years of education and hands-on practicum to develop skills to care for newborn babies. They may also require other certifications through a board or association, depending on their country of practice.

As physicians complete their neonatology fellowship, they usually continue to work in their original pediatric clinic or hospital treating children. This allows them to retain medical practice in their field while developing new skills and obtaining more technical information on newborns.

A neonatologist is always a pediatrician, but a pediatrician is not always a neonatologist. When parents-to-be are seeking a doctor to deliver their baby, the first choice is often a neonatologist over a pediatrician.

What other differences are there between a Pediatrician Differ and a Neonatologist?

The duties and obligations of a pediatrician differ from a neonatologist in a variety of ways. As a general medical practitioner, a pediatrician may see children from birth to adolescence and treat everything from ear infections to broken bones.

Neonatologists, on the other hand, generally care only for newborn babies to babies aged one-year. They treat newborn illnesses, care for premature babies, and perform various other duties.

Aside from a neonatologist’s responsibilities compared to a pediatrician, the two doctors also use very different tools. Due to the size of the patients a neonatologist sees, the tools they use are very tiny compared to a general pediatrician.

Working with a Specialist When a Specialist is Needed

In the medical community, many doctors treat general symptoms and illnesses. Some doctors specialize, like neonatologists. When you have a specific set of symptoms, or in the case of a baby, are a particular age, you benefit from working with the doctor who specializes in that field.

For parents of children born premature or of babies requiring specialized care, working with a neonatologist over a pediatrician can be extremely beneficial. While retaining a pediatrician for everyday needs is expected, if your child qualifies to work with a neonatologist, it is in your best interest to do so.

Finding a Neonatologist

As we mentioned, one way to find a neonatologist, and perhaps the best is to ask your current pediatrician or family physician for a referral. Most specialized doctors require a referral to begin treatment because their services are specific and often in high demand.

While the waiting list for a neonatologist might be lengthy, it does not mean you should accept the first neonatologist you meet. Like choosing any doctor, it is well within your rights to speak to more than one doctor about your child and find the right neonatologist for your family.

One way to evaluate a neonatologist is to read reviews and past patient evaluations. The internet has become a highway of information, and while much of it should be taken with a grain of salt, it is easy to find information on clinics, doctors, and specialists in your area.

Medical Malpractice and Medical Specialization

The risk of medical malpractice increases if a doctor who has not trained in a specialty attempts to tackle an issue in that area untrained. This means that if your child has resulted in any lasting effects of medical negligence, you are well within your rights to request counsel from a medical-legal lawyer.

It is also vital that you realize your rights as a parent and as a patient to request a specialized professional’s help when it is available. If you are concerned about a pediatrician’s ability to care for a newborn, you can ask for a neonatologist referral.

Contact a Medical-Legal Lawyer Today

If a pediatrician or neonatologist has treated your child, and you feel negligence or malpractice was involved, it is crucial to contact a medical-legal lawyer as soon as possible. The earlier your lawyer receives the facts and can begin an investigation, the fresher the information is to follow.

Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh work with families across Toronto and throughout Ontario to help retrieve the financial retribution your child needs to lead a full and healthy life following a case of malpractice.

To learn more about the difference between a pediatrician or a neonatologist, call Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh at 1-416-961-1212 or contact us here.

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