Where can I get a physical exam?
October 22, 2012 1:45 AM   Subscribe

Where can you go to get a very thorough physical exam?

I don't like the awkwardness of asking doctors for many tests, and I would like to get a very thorough workup. I would like blood tests, a very thorough physical exam, blood pressure, etc. Other than a regular doc, is there somewhere that I can go, and pay, to get a very complete exam?
posted by denverco to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No doctor, no matter how thorough, is going to order unnecessary tests. If you have particular concerns or a reason to think you may need a test that isn't part of a routine exam, you must squelch your awkwardness and bring it up.

Any reputable GP should be able to give you a thorough physical, which will go like this.
posted by Specklet at 2:18 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's a good man, and thorough.

If you want something beyond what your doctor will do by default, do you mean something like Mayo Clinic? You'll pay out the nose but it's certainly a next-level evaluation, and it gives you access later on if you have problems. At least, that's been the case for relatives of mine. I am guessing you are not old enough to justify it, though.

As to what you think is lacking: is it fair to say you're either concerned about surprise diseases like cancers, or you want to know what stands between you and peak fitness? If the latter, I recommend asking at your area MMA/boxing gym or a school athletics department about physicians who understand an athlete's needs.
posted by michaelh at 2:45 AM on October 22, 2012

There are companies that offer this here in the UK. Is that what you're thinking of?

You're probably in the US, but just in case....
posted by vacapinta at 2:51 AM on October 22, 2012

What do you mean by "blood tests"? In my wide experience with doctors, a complete blood count (CBC) isn't usually ordered unless something is suspected already, unless you're already dealing with a chronic condition that needs to be monitored, or unless you're getting cleared to undergo general anesthesia before planned surgery. And a CBC doesn't measure lots of things, such as cholesterol.

Maybe if you could say a bit more about what problem you're trying to solve, or what particular need you're addressing, we might be able to better answer the question you have about where to find doctors that will give you what you want. e.g., Do you suspect you have a condition? Are you trying to get a baseline? Are you trying to find doctors that are more thorough than doctors you've already seen for physicals?
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:27 AM on October 22, 2012

Try the search term "executive physical exam" or "executive medical exam". There are clinics that specialize in doing these kinds of screenings.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:33 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I get a yearly physical and a CBC, chemistry, thyroid screen, lipids, and UA is always included. Always. I get a head to toe exam. The mallet on the knee; the whole nine yards.

If you are uncomfortable making an appointment with your doctor, perhaps call another general practitioner who is a complete stranger and ask if she is taking new patients and book a complete physical.

Another way to get the tests you want is to piecemeal. Look for health fairs and hospital busses that offer community health services. In my town there is a yearly health fair where you can have a blood pressure check and a lipid profile. The community college among other companies sponsors the fair. Many hospital systems have "health fairs" where you can pay cash and have an assortment of tests. See here. Health fair packages.

I would start googling your city's big hospital system and the words "health fair", "wellness fair" "wellness expo", "community health" and go from there if you don't want to go to a real doctor. These tests do not replace a complete physical exam as I'm sure you are aware. Also google your university and community college. If you are a student and live in the US you probably can get a student physical at your health department. Your health department may offer adult physicals, who knows.
posted by Fairchild at 5:21 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Executive physical" is the thing, yes.

You are still going to need to be an informed advocate for what you want. Executive physicals vary pretty dramatically in extent and cost and quantity of follow-up, and even with the same provider there can be a broad menu of what gets done in terms of extent of tests on blood and urine, number and type of scans, and how physical testing and assessment that gets done -- wired-up running on treadmill, lung volume work, immersion body fat calculation, etc.

It's also important to note that executive physicals are targeted to men in (at least apparent) good apparent health and history and at least passable fitness in the 45-60 age range; if you are younger, a woman, or have significant health issues or fitness deficiencies, you are going to have to do more work to customize the program to your preferences.
posted by MattD at 6:58 AM on October 22, 2012

You could also try using a "concierge" or "retainer" physician as your primary care provider. They are becoming more and more common. They spend more time with you and usually offer more comprehensive physicals. Mine does routine 90+ minute yearly physicals, for example, with routine EKG, routine stress test, comprehensive metabolic testing every year, body composition analysis, fitness and diet plan, hearing exam, range of motion exam (I have a degenerative joint disease), pulmonary function testing, and the ordinary well woman exams. The only thing that's tailored for me is the range of motion exams. I pay an extra $2000 a year on top of what my insurance reimburses him and he is my personal doctor -- I get extended/same day appointments throughout the year, he coordinates all my treatment and makes specialist appointments for me, I have 24/7/365 access to him if I get sick (I try not to bother him). It's a good deal. Concierge doctors tend to do super physicals, too, and it's not a one shot deal like with an executive physical.
posted by sweltering at 7:11 AM on October 22, 2012

How about looking up pre-test probability?

Sometimes we see patients with EKGs that could be consistent with a heart attack. But if they're only complaining of an ankle sprain, then it's clearly not a heart attack (and you might question why they got the EKG in the first place).

Same with testing for no reason.

Without any symptoms, it's much more likely that your "very thorough" evaluation will lead to only false positive results (and risks of invasive procedures that you don't need) than truly abnormal results.
posted by gramcracker at 11:21 AM on October 22, 2012

Two of my aunts went to the Mayo Clinic near Jacksonville, Florida and got the most amazing workups I've ever heard of.
posted by LiverOdor at 5:08 PM on October 22, 2012

Thanks everyone, definitely appreciate the feedback.
posted by denverco at 5:39 AM on October 26, 2012

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