Family Doctor – Trusted Medical Professional AND Important Resource

Having regular checkups and being proactive about your health has become critical since the outbreak of COVID. A family doctor can help prevent you and your family from encountering serious medical problems down the road. Unfortunately, many families are of the opinion that if they feel OK, there’s no need to see the doctor. Letting many years go by is probably not a good idea. There are insidious or hidden conditions that can develop, new advances in medicine that can improve your quality of life, and strategies to maintain functionality.

Doug Landau is required to see his family doctor at Family Medicine of Clifton/Centerville annually. This is because, for international sports competitions, as a member of TeamUSA, he must provide proof of his good health and fitness. Furthermore, some races require a medical doctor’s note, or attestation that you have recently been examined, vaccinated, and are in good health. During the height of the pandemic, all the athletes on TeamUSA had to show a clean bill of health in order to travel internationally, with a note contemporaneous with their departure from the United States. Landau recalls that many members of TeamUSA came down with COVID during the ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships held in Montreal, Canada, despite precautions in a very healthy group of individuals. Landau himself came down with COVID five days after returning to the United States of America. His doctors at Clifton-Centreville Family Medicine were able to get a Paxlovid prescription to Landau up in Connecticut, where he was in isolation so that he could get well quickly, in order to attend his son’s wedding in upstate New York. Likewise, the Family Medicine doctors have discussed Landau’s condition with other specialists he has seen, including his orthopedic surgeon, Dentist & other physicians.

While pilots and flight attendants are required to pass physicals, the ground crew on the AOA are also subject to random drug testing, CDL renewals, and other medical testing. Annual checkups with a family doctor can improve continuity of care, head off problems and be a valuable “second opinion” when important healthcare decisions need to be made as the result of a traumatic injury or other serious medical conditions.

Another reason a good and trusted family physician is important is the role they can play if you or a loved one are involved in a crash or sustain a traumatic injury. While the initial treatment may be provided at a hospital, and follow-up with a specialist, at some point in time, coordination of care becomes critically important. Even if surgery is performed years later, the family doctor can help with coordinating care, making sure medications are not counteracting each other, and even helping with communication. Landau notes that nearly all medical practices have a phone tree designed specifically for this activity. When you call many doctors’ practices there are extensions for directions, appointments, payments, and other needs. In addition, most physician phone trees have a special number that says, “If this is a doctor’s office, please press #.” In other words, one doctor can get through to another doctor’s office a lot more easily than when you, your family, or your lawyer try to call them.

This is because doctors routinely rely upon the records, findings, and testing of other medical professionals in making their diagnoses, treatment plans, and other actions on behalf of their patients. So, if your family doctor picks up the phone during an examination to call the specialist or surgeon to find out why something is or is not being done, they have a lot better chance of getting through.

Doug Landau also suggests keeping your family doctor “in the loop.” He has seen many cases where badly injured clients have never mentioned the car crash or their workplace injury to their family physician. The chart at their long-time General Practitioner’s office is silent as to what has been going on with specialists, hospitals, physical therapists, etc. Some family doctors do not like to get involved in crash injuries or workplace accident care. They will sometimes say that they do not want to check a patient for these things because they don’t want to have to bill Worker’s Compensation insurance or motor vehicle medical payment coverages. They, nevertheless, need to be aware of the general state of their patient’s health.

Establishing a relationship with a family doctor for you and your family can be important if you or your family are ever injured in a traumatic event and need long-term or specialized care. You want an advocate for your needs and not be subject to the whims of the insurance company and their “bean counters.” A strong family-doctor relationship can enable you to get seen quicker and for your records to be shared so that the ball is not dropped.

Therefore, after a car crash, dog attack, or other injury, it is important to update your record with your family doctor so they know what’s going on. It would be a terrible thing if an Orthopedic Specialist or hospital gave someone medication that was contraindicated by other prescriptions that the family general practice doctor was not aware of. Many surgeons, once the surgery and postoperative care are over, no longer feel the need to follow up with the patient. They are “cutters,” and when the cutting and physical therapy for the traumatic injury are done, they move on. However, the patient may still have issues with pain management, range of motion, loss of sensation and functionality, etc. That is where the family doctor may be a valuable resource. If family doctor can reach out to the specialist or surgeon, and secure a referral back to the general practitioner, they can be the “air traffic controller for treatment.” A referral back can be written up and then used to have the G.P. seen as the “Authorized Treating Doctor” in a Worker’s Compensation claim. Lawyer Landau points out that since the family doctor knew you, perhaps your family, and your general state of health before the crash, they may have a vested interest in your overall health and good outcome, so as to see you and your family after the case is over.

So, don’t keep your family doctor in the dark. If you have been involved in a car crash, workplace accident, or sustained other traumatic injury, it is important that the family physician’s chart reflect your TOTAL state of health. They can be a helpful “sounding board” for additional care, medication coordination, and overall health advice.

Many ABRAMS LANDAU clients who work at an airport are required to have annual physicals, especially if they operate trucks, tugs, buses, and other vehicles on the Air Operations Area (AOA) at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Reagan National Airport (DCA). They are also subject to random drug screenings, vision tests, Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) health examinations, and other periodic medical testing. A lot of this testing is performed by a general practitioner or health clinic.

Pilots and flight attendants are also required to have medical testing for the safety of passengers and themselves. A number of ABRAMS LANDAU clients have not been able to return to their jobs with flight crew because they could not pass the employment physical. For flight attendants, this physical exam often requires that they be able to exert the force necessary to open and close the emergency doors and lift/retrieve heavy items from the overhead bins. Oftentimes, the required form is sent to the family doctor to perform the examination clearing the injured worker to return to the skies.

If you, or someone you know has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 703–796–9055, or email