Do I really need a primary care doctor?
I hear this question constantly from friends, family and sometimes even other doctors. These are their two most common excuses:
“I’m healthy. I haven’t had to see a doctor in years!”
So have you had your cholesterol checked? Do you know what your blood pressure runs? Are you up to date on your Tdap/tetanus vaccine (once every 10 yrs)? Are you happy with your current weight?
Most patients who come to me after skipping their annual physicals for several years end up having undiagnosed issues. This is why yearly physicals exist- to keep you up-to-date on vaccines & cancer screenings and identify problems before symptoms develop.
“I see my Ob/Gyn once a year. He/She is my PCP.”
Will your Ob/gyn treat your sinus infection? Will they counsel you on how to lower your cholesterol? Do they examine your thyroid?
God bless my ob/gyn colleagues – they often become the default “PCP” for women and do their best to cover as much as they can, but that is A LOT to do in one visit in addition to a full breast and pelvic exam. Many general health concerns will fall outside of their scope and believe me, they LOVE when you have a great PCP they can defer to for those issues.
So how do you know if you need a PCP?
If you answer “yes” to these two questions, you should go out and find a primary care doctor NOW:
- Are you too old to see a pediatrician?
- Are you alive?
And there you have it.
Still don’t have a PCP? What’s holding you back?
Next week, I’ll give my insider tips on how to pick the best PCP for you.