New Recommendations for Annual Exams

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Annual physicals, once recommended to ensure overall health, are now be considered unnecessary by the US Preventative Service Task Force.

Experts are now concluding that frequent tests don’t necessarily improve patient outcomes and could be problematic since over testing can lead to result errors. Science-Based- Medicine’s 2012 article “Rethinking the Annual Physical”, revealed annual check-ups also did little to nothing to improve health since these exams are unlikely to reveal any significant abnormality that wouldn’t have been detected eventually when symptoms developed.

Annual doctor appointments were deemed helpful for early diagnosis, treatment of current health problems and prevention of future problems. Some visits are strictly preventative, screening to detect problems such as high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin deficiencies are easily detected during these visits resulting in additional recommended vitamin supplements or prescription medications. Check-ups can also lead to proposed lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes or establishing an exercise routine.

While physicals are now said to be necessary every other year, the USPSTF, in addition, has made specific recommendations changes for screenings, such as for cervical cancer, from every year to now every three years. Prostate screenings, are currently only suggested when symptoms develop.

The changes in some recommendations might not do much to defer many New Yorkers from continuing their annual physicals, preferring the frequent visits for, not only their health benefits, but for their own peace of mind.

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