From an interview with
Dr. Winston Plunkett
McLeod Family Medicine Center – Florence
With the proliferation of medical specialists, many people have forgotten that primary care is also a specialty and is important for many reasons.
REASON #1 – CATCH PROBLEMS EARLY
“It’s very important to have a good relationship with a family physician,” says McLeod Family Medicine Center physician Dr. Winston Plunkett. “That’s somebody who’s looking out for you and your health, making sure that we’re catching things before they develop into big issues. For instance, hypertension or high blood pressure is called the silent killer, because it creeps up on people. It’s something that a primary care or family physician can catch 30 years before it turns into a major issue like a heart attack or a stroke.”
REASON #2 – FOLLOWING CHRONIC CONDITIONS
“If you suffer from a chronic medical condition, you might need to go to the doctor more frequently,” says Dr. Plunkett. “Some people with diabetes, high cholesterol or troublesome blood pressure might need to see their primary care physician every three months. If you’re a healthy, active person with few, if any, major medical conditions, I would recommend any adult go to the doctor at least once each year.”
REASON #3 – KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR MEDICATIONS
Assistance with keeping track of all your medications represents another reason to have a family physician.
“It’s helpful if you can bring either an accurate, up-to-date list or just bring your bottles of prescription and over-the-counter medications with you,” says Dr. Plunkett. “Some people might think it’s not important to list the vitamins or supplements that they’re taking, but you would be surprised. These can can cause interactions with prescription medications. So, we want to know everything. The primary care doctor knows your health, and they’re your advocate. They want to know everything so they can take the best care of you.”
REASON #4 – SCREENINGS
“Primary care physicians can make sure you’re up-to-date with your recommended screenings and tests,” says Dr. Plunkett. “Regular cancer screenings include things such as mammograms for women over the age of 40 and colonoscopies for people over the age of 45 or 50, depending on risk factors. Those are all important problems that we can catch. People love being outside in the South Carolina sunshine. So, we need to make sure you’re up-to-date with your skin exams to catch skin cancers before they turn into issues.”
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