Many of you have probably been asked to do a virtual visit with your doctor at some point this year due to COVID-19. Some people are jumping for joy about being able to not leave home, some are very nervous about fumbling with technology, and some others are concerned about being able to do a physical exam—I mean how can you listen to my heart through the computer?
Well, I’m here to tell you, listening to your heart [usually] isn’t necessary if you are young and healthy!
Yearly “physicals” are not what they used to be. In the age of evidence based medicine, we have actually found that we are doing more harm than good with getting things like chest x-ray, pulmonary function testing, EKG every year. Even things like rectal exams and yearly pap smears are a thing of the past. Breast exams, yearly labs? I think you know that answer and are catching my drift…
In the age of advanced technology, with better, safer way of imaging and blood testing, there are just somethings that don’t need to be done every year.
Now, this is not to say that I haven’t "caught" some pretty real and scary things on people that weren’t having any symptoms and just happened to be in my office for an appointment. This also isn’t to say that just because something isn’t necessary means it doesn’t need to be checked.
There are some pretty standard age related guidelines that The United States Preventative Services Task Force has created. This is really the basis for routine care for asymptomatic, healthy people, with little family history.
So the next time you see your doctor and she doesn’t listen to your heart, it isn’t because she doesn’t care, or isn’t doing her job. In fact, maybe it means that she is doing her job a little better as she is likely decreasing your exposure to unnecessary testing.
Now that being said, I do still have to bring you in for your knee injection and to remove that mole!
But please, if you see me and I don’t listen to your heart, just ask me to! I don’t take offense to it, I promise I will let you know if there is a reason why we shouldn’t do it!
…until next time, #IrishDoc07