Our primary care physician—our main doctor—is the person who knows us best. A recent survey shows that people who have a primary care physician tend to be in better health and have lower health care costs than those who don’t. That’s reason enough to get one! Pulse spoke with
Tiffany Trinh, MD, of
Torrance Memorial Physician Network to get more details about what a primary care physician does and how to choose one.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN?
It’s an advantage to have a primary care doctor who knows everything about you because we always keep the big picture in mind. Our goal is to keep our patients healthy and minimize unnecessary hospital or ER visits.
WHY DO WE NEED AN ANNUAL VISIT TO A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN?
An annual visit is recommended to make sure your doctor is aware of anything new or different with your state of health. It’s a good time to touch base with your doctor to review routine screening labs, update any vaccinations and make sure your cancer screenings are up-to-date.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT AT THIS VISIT? WHAT SHOULD YOU ASK?
You can expect a review of your blood tests, which typically look for any kidney, liver, prostate or thyroid problems. We also screen for pre-diabetes, diabetes, vitamin D deficiencies, as well as cholesterol abnormalities. If there are specific labs you are curious about checking, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
HOW DO YOU FIND A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN?
Ask your friends and family about their doctor. You want a primary care physician whom you trust and feel comfortable with. The Torrance Memorial website has physician profiles available so you can also read more about each doctor. It’s not a bad idea to schedule a time to meet your doctor first, so you can decide if the doctor-patient relationship will work.
WHAT SERVICES SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO RECEIVE FROM A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN VERSUS A SPECIALIST?
After you’ve established care, your primary care physician will know you the best. We are readily available to our patients. Our role is to coordinate specialty evaluations when needed and communicate with specialists/hospitals to provide the best care possible. Specialists are very good at what they do, but primary care doctors are the ones who identify the need for specialists and take into account other medical problems that may be important when patients need procedures or surgeries. A lot of medical problems can be managed in primary care, and patients can save a lot of time and money by going to their primary care doctors first.