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The Annual Physical Examination: Needless Ritual or Necessary Routine?

Christine Laine, MD, MPH, Senior Deputy Editor
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Current Author Address: Christine Laine, MD, MPH, American College of Physicians–American Society of Internal Medicine, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106; e-mail, claine@acponline.org.

Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(9):701-703. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-136-9-200205070-00013
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Imagine that a 45-year-old married, premenopausal woman with no chronic or acute medical problems, unremarkable family history, normal cholesterol level 2 years ago, and no tobacco use presents to you requesting an “annual physical.” You ask whether she drinks alcohol, feels depressed, or has HIV risk factors. She does not. Your assistant has recorded the patient's blood pressure (normal) and weight (10 lbs over ideal). You examine the patient's breasts and pelvis while counseling her to lose 10 lbs, wear seatbelts, take calcium, and visit a dentist regularly. As you leave the room, you tell her to come back in 3 years unless the Papanicolaou smear is abnormal or she experiences new symptoms of concern.

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