When presented with a variety of typical scenarios, pediatricians and family physicians tend to choose different approaches, according to the results of a survey of thousands of doctors published in the December 2002 issue of the Archives of Pediatric Medicine.
In general, family physicians are more likely to prescribe medications, order x-rays and other tests, and recommend office visits. They are also more likely to refer children to specialists (including allergy evaluations for children with asthma and ENT evaluations for children with repeated ear infections).
Pediatricians, though, are more likely to order blood tests for young children with fevers.
Both approaches can be correct, especially given the potentially different levels of experience in dealing with children’s health issues. I have my own set of preferences (e.g. I like to minimize x-rays, but encourage allergy evaluations of children with asthma).
Parents need to know that different choices are valid, and that it is okay to ask your doctor to discuss options with you. Together you can choose the best option for your child.