Doctors debate the usefulness of the annual medical physical.
Prevention has always been a mainstay of medical care, or at least, the idea that having a physical exam yearly will prevent a problem, or some deadly disease.
The truth is that medically, doctors cannot agree on what is truly necessary, with many of the blood tests either being a waste of time or leading to other tests, leading to unnecessary treatment that in many cases is more harmful than helpful. Basically, the idea of the “what if” disease is being questioned, when it relates to annual medical exams .
While certain life altering diseases such as diabetes no doubt are found on medical exams when we run sugar tests, often these people are having symptoms, and people with other problems are as well. Some doctors are now wondering if their time is better spent on people who are symptomatic rather than just there for a well visit. Basically, many of them are not sure if the preventative exam is worth their time, or the patients time for that matter. Also, with Obamacare, many doctors offices are getting busier and doctors would rather spend their time with those who truly need the care.
What are you as a patient to do? Obamacare has preventative exams built into the law to encourage you to go just because…, and for free if you are insured. Are these good intentions as the data rolls in after years of doing these exams not paying off, or resulting in harm that was meant to help?
In the chiropractic world, prevention of musculoskeletal problems make sense, since the model of back pain is moving toward our understanding that the pain is a problem of movement, rather than a disease process, and chiropractic care enhances movement. In the medical world, problems are labeled diseases so they can apply a drug or a treatment, but otherwise, there may, as many doctors are now discussing little data supporting this annual ritual.
Check out this interesting article on the discussion now occurring in the medical world on the annual physical
Your annual physical wastes time, money, some doctors say
Kim Painter, Special for USA TODAY 10:02 a.m. EST January 31, 2016
Mary Ann Bauman, an internist in Oklahoma City, says she has a rule for her patients: “œI tell them if they want to see me as their doctor, they have to come in once a year” for a checkup. It”™s a chance, she says, for doctor and patient to get to know one another, to fit in any tests that are due and to talk about everything from exercise habits to stress.
Zackary Berger, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, takes a different approach. “œI like to see patients regularly,” he says. “But when patients ask me “When should I see you next doctor?”™ I say, “I”™ll see you when you need to see me.”™ “œ
The fact that patients are getting such differing messages on what was once an unquestioned pillar of medicine “” the routine or annual checkup “” is not surprising.
A debate over the value of such appointments has been gaining steam among physicians, with views pro and con appearing in major medical journals and in the popular press in recent months.