The Worst Thing You Can Do If You've Got a Doctor's Appointment

If you're headed to your doctor's office, experts say you shouldn't skip this very important step.

You have been putting off your routine doctor's visits for months, fearful of stepping foot in a medical office amid the pandemic. But now that lockdowns have lifted, you might be wondering if it's safe to get that physical or check out that pain that's been bothering you since COVID-19 took over. Doctors know that, given the strange times that have come with the coronavirus pandemic, there is broad trepidation among patients. So if you're fearful, one simple thing can make all the difference: calling ahead to ask questions. If you don't, you risk putting yourself—and potentially, those at the doctor's office—at risk.

Patrice Harris, MD, the past president of the American Medical Association, told Forbes, "The bottom line to the patient community is call ahead." Harris added: "Don't be afraid. If your physician's office or surgery center is open, they have and are taking the utmost precautions to keep everyone safe." But you want to give them a ring just to make sure.

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Medical professionals are of course well aware of the public health risks brought about by the COVID-19 contagion. As a result, there are both strict guidelines and simple common sense behaviors medical professionals have adopted before opening up their offices. These include ensuring social distancing, universal mask-wearing, and constant cleaning and disinfecting between appointments. Keeping the number of patients in the doctor's office at a manageable level is also crucial in waiting rooms, which have been traditionally been high-trafficked and often poorly ventilated (a dangerous combination amid the coronavirus).

Two epidemiologists, Drexel University's Neal Goldstein, PhD, and Temple University's Aimee Palumbo, PhD, talked to NPR about what specific measures you should ask your doctor's office about before scheduling an appointment. And if you want to know what those questions are, check out 6 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Go to Your Doctor's Office.

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