There are guidelines for when people should get physical examinations. Often people are offered a physical from their employer. Students often get a “physical” to participate in athletics and these exams can be done at health fairs. We feel that most adult patients deserve a comprehensive physical exam every one or two years. This is the time we can review and assess a patient’s risk for medical conditions that have occured in their families. We can also identify lifestle issues and behaviors that impact negatively on their health, such as excess weight, inactivity, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol use or simply stress.
Usually, there are additional tests or studies we will order after we do a physical. With women over the age of 40, that usually includes mammography. Most adults need screening for cholesterol, diabetes and colon cancer. Men over the age of 50 need screening for prostate cancer. There are other conditions that are identified ONLY after a thorough history is taken and reviewed and after a patient is examined. This is the reason we prefer to order labs AFTER an exam is completed. It might seem more reasonable to order tests BEFORE an exam, but invariably, something is identified that sends a patient back to the lab for additional blood work. Also, until a patient’s insurance is varified and we have defined their benefits, we run the risk of ordering tests that are either not covered or only partially reimbursed. We do not like patient’s paying for tests unnecessarily. We also want to send people to the correct laboratory contracted with their insurance.
If it has been more than 1 year since your last physical, please call and schedule an exam. Since exams are considered routine care, it is likely to take a few weeks to get that appointment. If you have learned of a condition in your family that has not been recorded in your history, please inform your physician, so that information can be added to your chart.