AAP Announces New Rules For Pediatric Waiting Rooms

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The AAP is trying to help us keep our kids healthy this winter

Just in time for flu season, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released an updated policy statement for pediatrician’s offices that will help guide providers and families toward preventing the spread of disease.

Because apparently, some parents need to be told not to let their germ factory toddler cough in another child’s face.

Taking your kid to the pediatrician’s office can be an anxiety-inducing and gross experience, especially during the winter months when everyone’s full of germs. Unless your doctor has policies about separating sick kids from those there for well-child checks, you’re going to end up in a waiting room full of miniature plague transmitters. But the AAP is issuing precautions to try to stop the spread of illnesses.

Their new policy guidelines basically amount to treating pediatrician’s offices the same as hospitals when it comes to infection control and preventing the spread of germs. The first step toward making doctor’s offices and outpatient facilities that treat children more sterile is the recommended use of alcohol-based sanitizers and masks in the waiting room for patients who need help controlling their sneeze spray (aka, little kids).

The AAP is also endorsing annual mandatory flu shots for all healthcare providers and office employees along with proof of immunity from other vaccine-preventable illnesses including pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and hepatitis B.

It’s nice to know that healthcare providers are taking all possible measures to keep our kids healthy, but as parents, we have to do our part too. And that means corralling our sick little monsters the entire time we’re at the pediatrician’s office. All the face masks and hand sanitizer in the world won’t help if kids are actively smearing germs on each other. The fact that the freaking AAP has to make actual policy statements with information on this is kind of sad. Don’t let your sick kid cough on another kid. This is Parenting 101, you guys.

Because yes, that’s right — there’s now an official AAP-endorsed guideline recommending that pediatricians post signage relating to the proper way to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Which is understandable when it comes to little ones, I guess. But I still say a parent clutching their infected kiddo and not letting them run roughshod over the busy waiting room is the best way to go. It’s hard to think of a more stressful parenting situation than sitting at the doctor’s office watching another parent play on their phone while their tiny germ bomb runs up to your kid and sneezes into their mouth.

Look alive, parents. The pediatrician’s waiting room is not drop-in daycare.

Another waiting room move the AAP suggests is for doctor’s offices to clean any toys and books frequently and with a product that will actually kill germs. They also recommend completely steering clear of plush toys, because duh. Keeping your own kid’s lovey clean is hard enough. Imagine every snot-covered child in your zip code rubbing that waiting room teddy bear across their faces.

Puke forever.

The AAP is doing their best to help us have less god-awful winter illnesses, but we need to hold up our end of the bargain too. That means parents watching their kids in the waiting room so, hopefully, a few less families will have to deal with whatever we’ve got going on. It takes a village, and we’d all prefer that village not be full of hacking, sneezing kids.

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