The old-fashioned house call doctor is alive and well - and why that's a good thing

Kinderling News & Features

Before becoming a parent, you may never have considered asking a doctor to come into your home. 

But when illness strikes in the middle of the night, and you can’t diagnose your child, it’s hard to wait until the morning, but even more difficult to rouse the whole house and rush to hospital. 

Dr Natalie Caristo explains why there is still a third option in the mix. 

Listen to Nat on Kinderling Conversation:

“The most common reason for people calling a house doctor is in the early evening, overnight, their child gets sick and they are stuck between, ‘Do I take them to the emergency department’ and ‘But it’s another 10, 12 hours before my GP opens and I’m really worried about my child,’” Nat says. 

Of course, Googling a symptom doesn’t help either, which is why an after hours home doctor visit could be just what you need. 

The doctor comes to the house, makes an assessment and diagnosis, and allows you to start treatment in your own home immediately, Nat explains. They can also tell you what worsening symptoms might look like and when you should definitely visit the hospital. 

“At the same time, it provides reassurance that your child is going to be okay,” Nat says. 

For more serious symptoms and emergencies, you still need to go to the emergency department but these doctors act as an in between when your usual GP is closed. This also relieves pressure on emergency rooms, and means your child has medical attention faster.

“It’s not just treating the child but providing that information and empowering parents so they feel like they know they can go to bed… and know when they need to take action further.”

Dr Nat Caristo (MBBS BSc, FRACGP) is a GP who works with National Home Doctor Service.