Doctors Say It's Safe to Book These Appointments Again

As lockdowns are lifted, you can now schedule these regular health checkups.

Let's face it, nobody enjoys going to the doctor's office—especially not in the middle of a global pandemic. And amid coronavirus concerns, people have been postponing their regular health checkups in order to avoid visiting a hospital or urgent care. But, as states start to reopen, so too are medical offices—and they have a message for patients: It's safe to go to the dentist or book a physical with your primary care doctor.

On May 28, the American Medical Association (AMA) published a reopening guide for physician practices to help them welcome back their patients. It advises doctors' offices to open incrementally and offer flexible work schedules to avoid overlapping appointments. In addition, they should create separate "sick" and "well" waiting areas, and limit the number of people accompanying a patient to necessary individuals only (like parents escorting their children).

To reassure people, doctors' offices will take additional precautions, such as screening patients over the phone, arranging contactless temperature checks at the door, requiring them to wear masks, and testing them for COVID-19 prior to undergoing a procedure.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for dentists, too. Most importantly, they must have an "appropriate amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to support patient volume." The CDC also recommends that dentists' offices have touchless hand sanitizer stations, windows at reception areas, and educational posters explaining hygiene etiquette. As for the waiting rooms, the chairs will be moved six feet apart, or in some cases, patients will be asked to sit in their car until they receive a call from a nurse or other staff member.

While all of these steps will certainly make people more comfortable about booking their annual exams, telehealth services are still the safest option. During these virtual visits, doctors can prescribe medications and answer any questions you may have. And for more ways you should prepare for your next appointment, check out the 6 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Go to Your Doctor's Office.

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