For Immediate Release July 15, 2020

Visiting your primary care provider is important to maintain wellness, discover problems before they arise and take care of new and existing health conditions. When health problems are treated early, patients do much better than if problems are treated later. And preventive care is important to keep health problems at bay. But many patients wonder if it is safe to go to the doctor. The short answer is yes!

Even in this time of social distancing, it is very safe to go to your doctor. Most offices offer telehealth, where patients can consult with their provider via computer or other digital devices. This offers patients and their providers the ability to determine whether an in-person appointment is needed. With telehealth visits, you can be assured that precautions are taken to ensure your privacy. This option gives you access to your provider without needing to travel to the office.

Sometimes patients will need to visit their provider in person. For example, wellness exams, heart and lung monitoring, and other tests that cannot be done virtually. Most offices have put into place safety procedures such as checking in via app or by phone call. Patients wait in their cars until it is time to go in. Rooms are immediately available, so there is no waiting in the waiting room. This decreases the chance that patients will come in contact with other patients and limits exposure to other illnesses, like COVID-19.

There are some symptoms that should never be ignored and require immediate attention – either with your provider or in the emergency room. If you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, you should not hesitate to go to the emergency room. Additionally, chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure deserves attention right away. If you faint, have sudden dizziness, weakness, changes in vision, difficulty speaking, confusion or changes in mental status, immediate action needs to be taken. Sudden or severe pain anywhere in the body as well as uncontrolled bleeding deserves action, preferably in the emergency department. Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea, or coughing or vomiting blood are symptoms for which a trip to the emergency department is warranted.

Even in the emergency department, precautions are being made to ensure patient safety and limit exposure to COVID-19 or other illnesses. When you need help, do not hesitate to contact your primary care provider or go to the emergency room. They are safe and your health is of utmost importance.

Dr. Bahador Momeni is an internal medicine physician affiliated with the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. He can be reached at 410-553-8090.