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November 10, 2021/Pediatrics/News & Insights

Need to Consult a Pediatric Specialist? A New Provider-to-Provider Network Can Help

Cleveland Clinic Children’s launches the CARE Line, a peer-to-peer consult service


A new program offered by Cleveland Clinic Children’s is designed to connect providers anywhere in the country to specialists within the health system through one point of contact — the CARE line.


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Advanced practice providers and physicians in primary care pediatrics, family medicine, med-peds, pediatric specialists and those practicing within urgent and express care centers can call the number and be triaged to a specialist before the end of the day.

Wadie Shabab, MD, Vice Chair for Outpatient Operations at Cleveland Clinic Children’s and Medical Director of this program, says the goal is to connect pediatric providers to a specialist to address urgent and non-urgent needs related to patient evaluation or management. The program is set up to have a consulting physician return consult requests as soon as 15 minutes if the request is urgent or by the same day before 4 p.m. if it’s non-urgent.

How it works

If a pediatric provider, inside or outside of the Cleveland Clinic health system, would like to consult a pediatric gastroenterologist, for example, they would call 216.444.PEDS (7337). A dedicated team member who staffs the CARE line captures the caller’s information and request, then triages it to an on-call specialist for that practice area. The caller can also indicate the level of urgency and, in some cases, with whom they’d like to speak.

Based on the clinical scenario, the pediatric specialist might help brainstorm possible care pathways for the patient and offer to see them in one month if symptoms haven’t resolved. In more urgent cases, they might make themselves immediately available for an appointment, facilitate hospital admission, or recommend emergency care.

Dr. Shabab stresses that the medical decision-making is exclusively between the referring provider and the patient. The role of the specialist is to give an opinion where appropriate and create an open door to potentially transition care.

“It’s a simple concept, really, but it takes an enormous amount of teamwork across the enterprise. All Children’s departments have agreed to be part of the consult pool—both within the Pediatric Institute and within other institutes.”

A real clinical scenario

A pediatrician received a call from a patient’s mother whose child sustained a vaginal laceration after falling. Though the case was somewhat emergent, the mother had hoped to avoid a visit to a busy emergency room and her own Ob/Gyn did not see patients under the age of 16. Using the CARE line, the pediatrician was connected to Marjan Attaran, MD, Section Head of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Attaran was able to give the referring provider the needed advice.

A win-win for patients and providers

The program is still in its early stages; it just launched in September 2021. But Dr. Shabab and Karen Murray, MD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, are committed to its success. They will continue to evaluate its utility and efficiency.


But, so far, Dr. Shabab says it’s been a win-win for general pediatric providers looking for a quick consult and specialty pediatric practitioners who are delighted to share their expertise and accept referrals from colleagues inside and outside of the health system.

Providers can reach the CARE line at 216.444.PEDS from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please note, this line is for providers only, and patients will be redirected to the general appointment line.


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