According to USA Today, a study that came out Monday finds that annual health exams may be a waste of money. While part of annual health checkups include important preventive tests such as PAP Smears and mammograms, (and a delightful 20 minutes with the Bernstein Bears in the waiting room), some doctors don't feel that every person needs these visits on a yearly basis.
Not only are doctors disagreeing as to how frequently patients should have health exams, but also there seems to be debate as to when doctors should fit them in. On one hand, since three-fourths of patients who go in for yearly exams seem to have gone in to see their doctors for other health reasons previously in the same year, some researchers feel that the appropriate time for doctors to provide counseling and order preventive tests is during those previous visits.
Other physicians would disagree. According to Internist Dr. Douglas K. Owens, "The evidence is somewhat mixed." Speaking from personal experience, Dr. Owens explains, doctors don't always have time to provide preventive care during visits for other reasons. (USA Today) He currently chairs The American College of Physicians - a group that is debating whether or not to develop a checkups guideline.
Hopefully it's still okay to eat an apple a day with my turkey sandwich around noon. I rather enjoy those.
Dr. Owens is a general internist; senior investigator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California.