Primary care services cover the everyday health needs and health monitoring for people of all ages. Offices that specialize in primary care services will usually employ doctors and nurses skilled in diagnosis and a wide range of basic medical care. If a person is injured, ill, or suspects illness, a primary care provider is usually the first medical attention he or she will seek.
Until the late 20th century, primary caregivers were often referred to as family doctors or general practitioners. Many people would have a primary caregiver who could service the whole family and even form close relationships with several generations of a family. Most health care plans assign patrons a primary care physician who belongs to the insurance companies network. Depending on the provider and plan, people may be able to switch primary caregivers, or see an outside doctor for an additional fee.
In the broad and complicated world of medical care, primary care services narrow down the field to provide accurate diagnosis and specialist recommendations. If a primary care physician cannot make a clear diagnosis, he or she may give the patient a referral to a specialist in a related field. In this way, primary caregivers prevent specialists from becoming backlogged with easily treated or diagnosed problems.
Being treated by a primary care physician can save time and money for many patients. If the doctor can correctly diagnose and treat a minor illness or injury, a patient may see results faster and without the additional costs of specialists or lots of tests. On the other hand, primary caregivers are often very busy and may miss signs or symptoms that indicate a more serious condition. If symptoms do not abate after treatment, consider getting a second opinion or obtaining a referral to a specialist.
Another important focus of primary care services is prevention. Many doctors recommend yearly checkups for general health and specific conditions. Primary care physicians can often administer health checks and tests to ensure that a patient's body is functioning normally with no signs of developing conditions. Some experts suggest that proper preventative care can prevent serious illnesses or conditions from developing, as well as allow illnesses to be caught and treated early.
Primary care services can cover many areas of medicine, from broken bones to pneumonia. Minor injuries, colds and the flu, infections and general symptoms of ill health may all be examined by a primary caregiver. Basic obstetric, pediatric, and gynecological services may also be available through some primary care offices. In the case of an emergency or life-threatening condition, do not seek primary care. Get the affected person to an emergency room or hospital at once, or call appropriate emergency hotlines immediately.