When to Call the Doctor: Fever, Nausea, Diarrhea, Colds, and Coughs

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. - Voltaire

Introduction

When it comes to expectations, there is a major communication chasm between physicians and patients. Patients want to be educated and reassured about their ailment, while physicians misinterpret that expectation, and work too hard to cure what ails the patient. Sometimes what a patient wants and needs may not be what they get. Much of  the "disconnect" in communication between the physician and patient involves their past experiences.

The world has become a much smaller place, with families spread far and wide. The concept of many family generations living near each other has been replaced by opportunities to live and work almost anywhere around the world. Travel has become more reliable, and communication across thousands of miles is instantaneous. The need to live near relatives is no longer a necessity. The downside to this mobility is the loss of generational experience. When a child is ill and has a cough, vomits, or develops a fever, too often there isn't a relative living close by to get a second opinion. Without that experience available to help with decision making, the parent or caregiver may call a nurse help-line, visit a health care practitioner to ask for advice, or search online for reliable information.