Don't Put Off Visits to the Doctor Because of the Pandemic

Consumer Reports found some people are skipping routine appointments, which can have long-term implications

NBCUniversal, Inc.

People have been putting off going to a doctor, getting vaccines, and even going to an emergency room because of fears of COVID-19. But putting off those visits may not outweigh the risks of infection. As Consumer Reports explains, it's important to get the medical care you need even during a pandemic.

You shouldn’t ignore potentially serious symptoms. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, including signs of a heart attack or a stroke, call 911, go to an ER, or call your doctor immediately.

If you’re unsure whether you should go in for a screening test, office visit, checkup, or procedure, you should give your doctor’s office a call. The staff can help you decide if you should come in or not. This also includes keeping your kids’ vaccines up to date.

Going to your doctor may look and feel different. Before your visit, you’ll probably be screened for COVID-19 symptoms by phone or email, and your temperature may be checked before stepping in the door.

You may be asked to come alone and wait outside instead of in the waiting room.

Sharp Healthcare told NBC 7 Responds that it has a number of policies in place to keep its patients safe.

"Sharp has taken all the necessary precautions to ensure that patients in need of medical attention can get the care they need in a safe environment, whether it’s a doctor’s visit or a trip to the urgent care or emergency department,” said John Cihomsky, spokesperson for Sharp HealthCare. “Among the various protocols in place are treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms in areas separate from other patients, special check-in procedures to reduce face-to-face interactions, health screenings at facility entrances, and regular cleaning of facilities and equipment, including high-tech disinfecting robots.”

You should also take the same precautions at the doctor’s office as you would elsewhere in public, such as wearing a mask, maintaining 6 feet from others, keeping your hands away from your face, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer after touching surfaces.

You can also expect a lot of the same changes at your dentist’s office. Those who need crowns replaced, fillings, and bridges might take priority over those who are due for a cleaning. So if you have to delay that cleaning, remember to brush and floss regularly.

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