Along with all the other anxieties we have during this COVID-19 crisis, one of the questions people have is: Is it safe to see my doctor? Let’s look at that.
First, as for any other reason to leave your home, you need to decide if there is enough of a problem to go out at all. For some problems, a video telehealth visit is an excellent place to start. Most doctors have the capability to set up a visit, which is a great way to take care of a lot of problems. Then you and your doctor can decide whether an in-person visit is needed. For some problems, you may already be sure that a video visit just won’t work. If your ear is blocked and painful, for example, it is not likely that a video visit will help.
Okay, so let’s say you and your doctor have decided that an in-person visit is a good idea. Here’s the thing. It is likely that visiting your doctor’s office is, overall, one of the safest out-of-the-house activities you can do.
You may be thinking what? I thought that doctors’ offices were full of sick people? Doesn’t that put me at risk?
I know my own office best, so let me tell you how that goes…
In our office, we have a special, separate part of the waiting room where each patient is screened for symptoms and fever before they even come into the main part of the office. There, they maintain six feet of distance to the front desk staff. In our waiting room, we only have three places to sit, all widely separated, so you are never close to another patient.
Oh, and did I mention that ALL staff and patients are wearing masks? They are.
Furthermore, we are only making appointments for half as many patients as normal. So there really is usually only one or two patients in the waiting room at any time.
The exam rooms are wiped down with virus-killing cleaners between patients. Also, the doctors and staff directly in contact with patients are wearing N95 masks, eyewear, gloves (single use only), and clean scrubs. Furthermore, our N95 masks have gone through rigorous fit testing to make sure they don’t leak, which protects both us and our patients.
If you think about it, all of the above is MUCH safer than almost anything else you do, such as going to the grocery store where some people wear masks and follow spacing directions, but some don’t. Or, walking in a park or on a sidewalk where a panting non-masked biker can fly by at any moment, spewing who-knows-what into the air.
Bottom line – stay home if you can. Use telehealth if that is appropriate, but, like most doctors’ offices, we have both the equipment and know-how to make your visit as safe as possible.