Made an appointment to see your doctor for your annual checkup? Excellent! Annual physicals are a great way to make sure that your health is on track for the year. Your doctor will certainly have their checklist of items to review at your visit, but I always advocate for patients to come prepared armed with their own checklist too, to make sure you get enough out of your visit.
Quick side note: an annual physical usually addresses health maintenance and screenings, and usually if you have a new or ongoing health problem, this may call for a separate visit so your health issues are best addressed. But it's certainly a good time to bring up any issues so your doctor can decide how best to address them.
So here are 5 questions you should ask at your next physical:
1. AM I UP TO DATE WITH MY SCREENINGS?
This is an appropriate time to make sure that your age-appropriate health screenings haven't fallen through the cracks. If you're not sure what you should be due for, check out this list . Especially during COVID, we're seeing a lot of delayed screenings, and it's super important to make sure you're up to date.
2. AM I UP TO DATE WITH MY VACCINES?
Many people are up to date with COVID vaccines or their annual flu. But don't forget some vaccines that you only become eligible for at a certain age (shingles, pneumonia) or when you have certain medical conditions). Here is the CDC's vaccine schedule list. Make sure you discuss eligible vaccines with your doctor.
3. AM I DUE FOR LABS?
Not everyone needs labs annually, but depending on your age, health conditions, family history etc, you may be due for certain labs like cholesterol, blood sugar, kidney function etc. In fact, it might be wise to get labs done prior to your physical so you can review the results with your doctor at your appointment.
4. IS MY PHYSICAL EXAM NORMAL?
When you get your vital signs checked, make sure you know what a normal range is , and whether you are within the correct range. For example, many folks are not aware of what a normal blood pressure, heart rate range and BMI is for their age or health conditions. This is a great time to review with your doctor what your goals are.
5. IS MY CHART UPDATED AND ACCURATE?
This recommendation comes from experience. Many times during the annual exam, I realize that the patient's medication list, medical history, family history etc are not updated into the chart. If any health issues have changed since your last physical (either new problems, or old problems that have resolved), make sure to have your medical history updated. And for medications, make sure to bring your updated med list to your physical so this can be reconciled as well.
Hopefully you've found this list to be helpful! Please share with anyone that may need this before their next physical!