09 Aug Visiting the Doctor During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is making people wary about setting foot outside their homes. For those with pre-existing health conditions, their vulnerability to the outside world is dramatically heightened during this time. But what should you do if you genuinely must visit the doctor? Read on to know how you can safely pause your self-quarantine to visit your doctor, even during this uncertain time.
Visiting Your Doctor During the Pandemic: Steps for Health and Safety
Read Up on COVID-19 Related Local or State Policies
Some states are requiring local clinics and hospitals to temporarily suspend routine visits and elective procedures. This means that patient contact, especially in outpatient settings, should be limited to emergency medical situations. Know the policies in your area so that you don’t unknowingly violate any rules. If after researching the rules, you are still lacking clarity, don’t hesitate to reach out to your general practitioner for additional assistance.
Consider the Necessity
There are situations where a visit to the doctor is unavoidable. For example, if your examination can only be done in person, or you must have lab work done, you have no choice but to visit your doctor’s physical office. When you think about visiting the doctor during this time, consider if it is something that can be put off for a later time. If it’s not an urgent visit, you can afford to wait. During this time, your doctor just might tell you the same.
Prepare for the Appointment
Your doctor’s office may have specific protocols for patients to follow. For example, you may get a call prior to your appointment asking about your current health history, as well as whether you exhibit any potential symptoms of COVID such as a cough, flu or cold symptoms, or any other conditions that could make you further vulnerable. You may be given instructions on how to prepare for your appointment, what you can expect while you are there, and what kind of precautions you need to follow prior to your arrival in the clinic and throughout the appointment itself. Be as honest and detailed as possible when giving your replies–the information you give will be used to protect yourself and the other patients who will be in the clinic with you.
Take Necessary Precautions During Your Appointment
We can’t put it simply enough: wear a mask. Additionally, avoid crowded areas on your way to the appointment, and wash your hands as soon as you get there. If you cannot, bring a hand sanitizer with you to clean your hands.
The clinic you visit may offer a handwashing or sanitizing area for patients. Unfortunately, unless you contact them in advance, you will not know whether it is there. It’s best to arm yourself with options! Keep your mask on while in the clinic or hospital especially when coughing or sneezing. Stay at least six feet from others where possible and avoid touching your face as much as possible. Wash your hands immediately and change into a clean set of clothes once you get home.
Opt for a Virtual Visit
More doctors have adopted virtual consultations to reduce face-to-face encounters and to keep high-risk patients safely in their homes. According to the Mayo Clinic, a telemedicine session is an effective way to follow up with your doctor from home, complete a basic physical examination, or even make arrangements as to prescriptions for medications that you can also obtain online. Ask about the security protocols used in a virtual consultation system to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of your medical records.
Be Familiar with the Hospital and Clinic Protocols for Emergencies
Hospitals are required to have strict containment protocols for emergency situations to ensure that suspected COVID patients are separated from other patients who are coming in for emergency medical attention. Know what these protocols are, which may include the type of documentation you should have prior to coming in, how many family members are allowed to accompany you, and more.
The pandemic is changing how we interact with each other, including how we can take advantage of health services. Determine if you really need to get to the doctor’s office or merely opt for a virtual consultation. Know the precautions and be familiar with any changes so you can stay vigilant, healthy, and safe to ensure that your family and loved ones stay the same.
Let Pacific Coast Medical Group Manage Your Needs
Get in touch with our office today to know more about what you can do to make your next medical appointment safe for yourself, as well as those around you.