Lawsuit Could Change Pediatric Practice

Your baby has a diaper rash, or an older child has a runny nose. You call your doctor, and often they'll just call in a prescription for you. But that could soon be a practice of the past.

This week, a jury awarded more than $3 million to a boy who sued Pediatric Associates of Savannah for malpractice. One of the claims was that his doctors prescribed him medication without seeing him in person.

Now this one case could have an impact on healthcare for kids all over.

Rachel New brought her daughter to the doctor yesterday. Four-year-old Gabrielle had a fever, runny nose and just felt lousy.

But sometimes, she just calls the doctor and asks them to call in some medicine instead of going to the trouble of bringing her kids in.

"Every mother knows their own child," she said. "We pretty much know what's going on with them if they need to come in. Fever and stuff like that, that's one thing, but waking up with a cough and regular cold symptoms is another."

Dr. Gustave Kreh is doctor at Pediatric Associates of Savannah. He's treated kids like Gabrielle for almost 30 years. He used to think nothing of calling in a prescription for something minor, but not any more.

"It has to be a case-by-case basis, but we will be very hesitant to call in a prescription without seeing a child at this point," he said.

That's going to cost parents more time. "Especially being a working mom," said New. "It's difficult to take off and bring them to the doctor, so it would be hard and irritating to not be able to do that."

Doctors will not only actually see more children, they will also be referring many of their patients to specialist as an added safeguard. That will cost parents more money.

"I don't think it will change the care we render to patients," Dr. Kreh said. "I think we've always provided excellent care and will continue to do that. It just means we'll have to be a little more careful about what we see and document."

Dr. Kreh believes this lawsuit isn't just going to affect pediatricians in Savannah, but all over the area, and possibly the country.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter,