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Why adults are still seeing their pediatricians

Posted at 5:32 PM, Oct 07, 2019

That scene from “Friends” when we find out Ross is still a patient at his pediatrician’s office is getting more common for young adults.

One reason is young adults can stay on a parent's insurance until they are 26 years old so it's easier and more affordable to stick with the same doctor.

There are downsides though.

“If they start to get medical conditions, high blood pressure, hypertension, adult onset diabetes, those more … adult medical conditions, that’s an appropriate time to say, ‘hey maybe it’s time to transition to an adult provider,’ ” said Dr. Christina Johns with PM Pediatrics.

The pediatric emergency physician says one benefit of staying on with a pediatrician longer is the patient continues to see someone familiar with their medical history, especially for those with chronic childhood health issues. And she says it prevents the young adults from moving into another trend she's noticing — relying solely on emergency room and urgent care only.

“There really does seem to be a large group of adults who use those places as their primary care,” the pediatrician said. “It’s really important to have a relationship with a primary care doctor.”

Johns says when young adults become parents and when women need regular OB/GYN care, those are also appropriate times to transition away from a pediatrician.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages transitioning away from pediatric care solely based on age. Their position is that it’s a decision between a patient and their doctor. It should take into account meeting the needs of the patient and the abilities of the doctor.