Having regular check ups 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 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, and other physicians.
Another reason a good and trusted family physician is important, is the role they can play if you or a loved one are involved 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 help 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 patients’ health.
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 it an Orthopedic Specialist or hospital gave someone medication that was contraindicated by other prescriptions that their the family general practice doctor was not aware of. Many surgeons, once the surgery and postoperative care is 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 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 Workers 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.
While athletes who regularly compete are assumed to be in top physical condition, we have all heard about people like Jim Fixx, the author of the bestselling book on running, who died of a heart attack. There are also stories of other sports enthusiasts who neglected or were unaware of their own serious underlying medical conditions. Regular check ups with the family physician can improve the chances of catching something that may be important to your health. Athletes who are in elite competition mode can sometimes not be aware of subtle changes in their bodies that can lead to long-term harm. Many athletes have very low blood pressure and heart rates, which sometimes leads to vasovagal events such as lightheadedness, fainting, falls, and in Doug Landau‘s particular case, a double concussion. While brain injury from drops in blood pressure when getting out of bed are not common, a family doctor may have helpful strategies for preventive health issues.
When an athlete sustains an acute injury on top of a chronic condition, the family physicians may be in the best position to direct care. Your GP will be aware of chronic, long-standing problems, like arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, degenerative changes in the spine, etc. When a sudden injury, aggravates or accelerates an underlying condition, the specialists are often called upon to render opinions about the causal connection with a traumatic event. A family doctor’s records and input can help inform the specialist’s or surgeons, opinions, and this, “1-2 punch” of medical opinion evidence can help carry the day if there is a dispute in court. While the primary reason for medical care is your health, not your court case, it is a helpful secondary benefit.
If you, or someone you know has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 703–796–9055, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.