Safety Tips for Visiting the Doctor During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is continuing throughout the United States. Many counties and cities are doing “secure in place” quarantines to try to slow down how quickly it spreads. However, the likelihood of encountering someone in public who has or has been around someone with COVID-19 is predictably high, especially if you enter a medical setting.
The prevalence of coronavirus has made going to the doctor for a routine checkup a potential danger. People reporting cold-like symptoms – including cough, fever, and body aches – could be a coronavirus carrier and not realize it. After all, the majority of cases are reported as mild, and many people show no symptoms at all as “invisible carriers.”
If you need to go to the doctor for a checkup or appointment, remember these precautions:
- Call ahead: Before you go to the doctor, see if you can call ahead of time for assistance. There are some diagnoses that a doctor can do remotely through web applications, meaning you might not even have to go to the hospital or clinic at all for your treatment. While calling ahead, you should also let the receptionist know any symptoms you are experiencing, so they can tell staff in advance if you pose a possible coronavirus risk. Lastly, the receptionist can tell you if there are any new intake procedures you should know about because of the pandemic.
- Wear face protection: Most viruses, bacterial infections, and other illnesses are contracted by coming into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. The mucus membranes in these parts of your face are vulnerable to infection. While at the doctor’s office, you should wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose. You might also want to wear glasses if you have them, just to prevent yourself from touching your eyes.
- Give people more elbow room: Do what you can to keep at least three feet of distance between yourself and other patients in the waiting room. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends keeping this distance between yourself and others at all times, but it is all the more important when in a medical setting. There might be distancing rules imposed by the clinic, too. Listen to their instructions and adhere to them as best you can.
- Wash your hands frequently: Use hand sanitizer stations around the medical clinic frequently, but also know where sinks are located. Washing your hands with hot water and soap is much more effective at neutralizing the virus than hand sanitizer. Used together, preventative care is even better. Wash your hands before leaving for the doctor, while you are waiting if you can, and before you leave.
- Arrange a follow-up appointment: Discuss a date to schedule a follow-up appointment with your primary care physician. It is not quite known how long the coronavirus stays with a patient and whether or not it will cause lasting side effects. With another checkup months later, hopefully after any quarantines are lifted, you can feel more confident that your health is preserved.
From LawMD in Washington, D.C., we send our best wishes and regards to you and your family. Staying proactive and keeping safe practices in mind during the coronavirus pandemic will help slow its spread, putting less stress on our nation’s healthcare providers, which also means the people who need care the most can get it. We will get through this difficult time together.