When patients come back to the Medical Clinic after the first consultation, it is either they come back for follow-up or check-up or new consult.
In my medical recording, I usually use the term “check-up” when there is no active medical or surgical condition or urgent medical procedural or test outcome to follow-up. If there is, then, I use the term “follow-up.”
Examples, one week post-op for removal of stitches and tube drain in patients undergoing a total mastectomy with checking of wound is under a “follow-up” service. One month after removal of the stitches and tube drain with checking of the wound and operative site is under a “check-up” service. Patients coming back for result of a biopsy done 3 days ago is under a “follow-up” service. Cancer patients coming back for recurrence surveillance purpose is under a “check-up” service.
At times, there may be a gray zone between “follow-up” and “check-up” services. In which case, I place a tag of “follow-up / check-up.” An example: in observing a medical condition for about a month for diagnostic purpose (follow-up / check-up after one month such as in patients with a high probability of fibrocystic breasts). Another example: in watchful waiting for a medical condition that has a high probability of spontaneous resolution (follow-up / check-up after two weeks such as in patients with a diagnosis of reactive hyperplasia of the lymph nodes).
If patients come back to the Medical Clinic after the first consultation complaining of a new medical problem unrelated to the previous ones, then the service is neither follow-up or check-up but a first consult for the new problem.