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The Resurgence of the House Call

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Asked whether pediatric house calls are a trend, she tells WebMD, "I am not seeing it in the Rochester area as a general practice for a lot of reasons including the need for specialized equipment and testing. If you have a very sick child, you may need modalities that you wouldn't be able to carry to the home."

Francis says she prefers the office setting to the home in case she needs to call in her specialist colleagues for help during an evaluation.

There are also some safety concerns for the doctor and the patient when care comes in the form of house calls, she says.

"There may be danger for a doctor who enters a home or an empty office with patients he or she doesn't know very well. There are also some unscrupulous physicians [who could take advantage of a patient because] there are no safeguards to monitor their behavior at the home like a nurse or a receptionist [may do at the office]," she says.

"We don't have any data to support that house calls are making a comeback other than what people have heard around the country sporadically," says Jack T. Swanson, MD, chairman of the AAP's Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine and a pediatrician in private practice in Ames, Iowa.

"House calls are a practice preference among the people that are doing it," he tells WebMD.

He says there probably won't be a study on house calls unless it starts to become a common practice and there are concerns about reimbursement or other issues.

Swanson does not make house calls. "There is more availability in the office for evaluation and testing of sick children," he says. "But some children may have a difficult time getting to the office so there are two sides to the story."

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