Danielle Ofri, ('Doctors' Bad Habits', Sunday Review October 6) after evaluating data that pointed to the lack of benefit in performing annual physical exams on young, healthy, asymptomatic patients, concluded that they were still worthwhile - at least for her. Without citing any data of her own, the doctor concluded that an annual visit "establishes a solid doctor-patient relationship." We are not told, however, what her patients think about this medically unnecessary visit. After all, they are asked to come to see her for no medically established reason, and in the process may be losing a day's work, or having to find someone to provide child care, etc. I feel quite certain that a fee is involved as well.
Medicine should be practiced using well established guidelines. Physicians often practice methods taught years ago, or practice by some "grandfathered" idea, if you will, that actually has no basis whatsoever in fact. Evidence-based medicine is the path that all physicians should follow. If they feel otherwise they should offer their patients a good explanation before he is asked to give up his time and spend his (or, more of then than not - our) money.
Dr. Ofri has decided that annual physicals are worthwhile despite data showing otherwise. Why not semi-annual physicals, or quarterly physicals? Why has "annual" become the standard for Dr. Ofri? Maybe weekly phone calls would be even more beneficial for the doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Ofri.