In the early days of fitness, the phrase “fit to live” was one of the most common phrases used by health professionals to describe people who were in need of regular exercise and who were not fit to walk.
While this phrase can now be used by anyone, it’s no longer appropriate for a health professional.
This week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will require all healthcare providers in the United States to test their employees for pre-existing conditions, and to follow up with patients with those conditions when they are diagnosed.
The announcement follows a 2015 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found that between 1 in 7 and 1 in 3 Americans suffer from pre-cancerous conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
The CDC has called on healthcare providers to better understand the health needs of people who may be at increased risk for those diseases.
“The CDC has long recommended that healthcare providers, particularly primary care providers, conduct extensive screenings for preexisting conditions in all patients and their families, and seek to improve the health of those patients,” said USFWS Commissioner Julie Ann DeFazio in a statement.
“This will ensure that health care providers are taking the lead in ensuring patients and families receive the health care that is best for them.”
Pre-existing medical conditions are considered “health problems” and therefore should be monitored and addressed when a patient presents to a healthcare provider, regardless of the severity of their condition.
“Pre-existing diseases are a major contributor to healthcare costs, including for primary care, nursing home care, and acute care,” said Dr. David DeAngelis, president and CEO of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
“A high rate of pre-disposing to these illnesses in the population is contributing to the burden of predisposing health care costs.”
Health care professionals can now expect to see their patients more frequently if they don’t follow these guidelines.
In 2017, the number of primary care visits for pre‐existing conditions decreased by 16.4 percent compared to the previous year.
While the number has continued to decrease, the increase in primary care care visits has been due to increased patient numbers, said Dr DeAngelas.
“In 2016, we saw a big drop in the number, and the number was going down even though there were a lot of people coming in,” she said.
While many patients who have pre‐disposed to cancer or diabetes are also on medications that are designed to help control their symptoms, there are some patients who may not be able to be tested for pre–existing conditions due to a lack of testing resources or because they have a preexisting condition.
The FDA will now require healthcare providers and providers of health care support services to report the following information: pre‐invasive testing, such as colonoscopies, colonoscopy and x-rays;