Why having a PCP is important?

3/26/2014

What is a Primary care physician (PCP)?  It is a physician who provides both the first contact for a person with an undiagnosed health concern as well as continuing care of varied medical conditions.

     What happens when you get sick and don’t have a PCP?  You either ignore the symptoms or visit the ER for an illness that doesn’t require emergency care.  Neither is good for optimal health.

     Having a primary care physician is your first line of defense in getting well and staying well.    Your primary care physician gets to know you and your family over a period of time.  Having a doctor that knows you is very important.  The dynamics of being familiar with you and your family needs is an invaluable asset.   Even at what seems to be a rushed office visit they get a sense of the person you are.  They can get to know your values, your family situation, and job pressures.  This may not seem important but it can have a profound affect on your health.  Just getting to know you and having this knowledge can help them assess what is troubling you. Having a PCP will over time will get to know you and your family history.  They can provide screenings you need, and identify and treat minor problems before they become major ones.

     When you develop a strong doctor-patient relationship being familiar with you helps them to know what is and isn’t normal for you.  What about new onset high blood pressure?  Wouldn’t you rather they catch it before you present to the ER with a stroke?

If you have a PCP you have someone who can do annual exams, even though you don’t have any symptoms.  Remember high blood pressure doesn’t always present with symptoms for everyone. This is one reason annual exams can save lives. 

     The PCP is your first line of contact when you have a problem.  They can also find other resources when it is out of their scope of practice and recommend a specialist to meet your needs.

     If you have a PCP they can offer options that can help prevent you from making unnecessary trips to the emergency room.   He/she may be able to answer a question that concerns you, call in a prescription or suggest a course of action you can take at home.  An ER physician is there to take care of emergencies.  An emergency room can never take the place of your PCP.  Of course if an emergency does exist, the ER not the office can save a life for the critically ill or injured.

      If you feel like you don’t have a good fit with a PCP, it takes time to get to know one another.  Always remember to communicate and be honest with your physician.  Relationships are built over time.  To schedule an appointment with a primary care physician, call the Medical Center of Dimmitt at 647-2194.  

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