One of the basic questions we ask when scheduling appointments is, “Who’s your primary care physician?”. Just a simple, harmless question. But man, you won’t believe how many people would think it’s an insult and will answer, “I don’t have one. I see whoever I want.”
First of all, the question asked was not meant to restrict you in seeing physicians/doctors. Patients with no PCP (Primary Care Physician) think by not declaring one, they have more chances to be seen. Not completely true. You’d be more likely to be pingpong’d here and there between doctor’s offices because [more likely] the doctor’s office he/she called in doesn’t feel obligated to ‘work you in’. Too often, PCP-less patients go to an urgent care center for strep throat, an emergency room for a knee injury and a subspecialist for chronic ear infections.
Secondly, your PCP’s office is like your medical home. It’s your main source of medical records. If for instance you were seen by a Dermatologist for stubborn acne, a copy of reports will be sent to your PCP. Let’s say you ended up in an out-of-town ER for a car accident, your PCP will get the reports as well. In the future, when you need those information (be it for insurance purposes or what not), just call your PCP office and you can ask them to take care of the release of information. Imagine if you don’t have a PCP, you have to call here and there to gather all of those scattered information yourself.
In our department, we have 5 physicians (soon to be 4, sadly) who would willingly working in patients who aren’t theirs but have a PCP. So the notion of not having a PCP isn’t the smartest way to have a good health care. Besides, you don’t want to start from all over again explaining your medical history everytime you’re seeing different physician, do you?