Some doctors say annual checkups a 'waste' of time
Growing body of research show annual checkups don't actually improve health
Posted: Mar 5, 2013 10:00 PM AT
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2013 10:33 PM AT
Some doctors on P.E.I. are trying to dissuade their patients from getting an annual physical in response to a growing body of research that shows a checkup with your doctor every year doesn't actually improve your health.
Some studies have shown, while people who go for physicals are healthier, it's not because of the checkup, but because of other lifestyle choices.
Dr. Jennifer Zelin is one of a growing number of family doctors in Canada convinced annual checkups aren't necessary for healthy adults.
Though Zelin said she will still give patients an annual physical if they insist on it.
"If someone really, really wants a physical exam, we'll still do one, but with an educational component that it's probably not contributing to their health," she said.Dr. Jennifer Zelin is one of a growing number of family doctors in Canada convinced annual checkups aren't necessary for healthy adults.
Zelin said by freeing up time and focusing instead on chronic conditions and selective screenings, she's providing better care.
"I actually have more time in my office hours to see them for more urgent problems, or for their ongoing health care of a chronic problem,” she said. “And I haven't heard anyone [who's] dissatisfied with this system."
Zelin and other doctors said patients can do more to benefit their own health than any physical exam ever would just by eating healthy, getting 30 minutes of exercise per day, and avoiding smoking.
Annual checkups vary from doctor to doctor but usually include a check of vital signs, listening to a patient's heart and lungs, and a head, neck and abdominal exam. For men, an annual chekup might include a testicular exam and/or a prostate exam. For women, an annual exam might include a breast and/or pelvic exam.
Last year the province of Ontario lowered the fee it pays doctors for annual checkups, and told doctors to conduct fewer tests.
Health PEI said the frequency of checkups is up to the doctor.
Dr. Rachel Kassner stopped doing physicals a couple months ago.
She said she can fit in at least four more patients per day.
"Why am I doing all these investigations? Why would I be wasting taxpayer dollars, my time, when I could open up that appointment for another individual that has a more urgent [need]?" asked Kassner.
Kassner and Zelin both said the P.E.I. government should study this issue more closely to see if annual physicals are a good use of doctors' time and taxpayers money.
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