At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Pediatric primary care may have several definitions. It can refer to the main and usual care given to the pediatric population (birth to 18). Alternately, it might refer to facilities or physicians that would give regular care to kids, and are the first place parents would take kids for medical care. In either definition, a general practitioner or a doctor who has specialized in pediatrics might provide care.
In the first definition, the whole field of pediatric primary care can be seen as huge. The pediatric population as a whole must be cared for with many things in mind. Doctors assess each patient and compare that patient to the developmental norms for children, which change rapidly as kids age. They also know to screen for certain types of illnesses, to encourage parents to give treatments like immunizations which may prevent diseases, and to realize that as patients grow up and reach their teens, it’s necessary to look at potential risk factors for new diseases and conditions like sexually transmitted diseases, drug use or pregnancy.
There can be so much difference between pediatric primary care for a two-year-old, for example, and the care given to a 17-year-old. A wide range of knowledge has to be on hand to give proper care, and as medicine changes, new things must be learned. Many physicians keep handy various texts on pediatric primary care, and they may also keep tables on average development or drug dosing for weights. Even if they know the field intimately, making certain to check with charts or texts can eliminate mistakes.
The second definition of pediatric primary care more refers to the doctor who gives care to children, instead of the vast field that encompasses all primary medical knowledge. The term primary care became very popular with development of certain companies like health maintenance organizations, which required people to have a main or primary care doctor. There are individual doctors or practices that can be quite large, which may offer pediatric primary care services, and belong to health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or preferred provider organizations (PPOs). When people have children, they typically have the option of choosing pediatricians as primary care providers for their kids. They may prefer this since pediatricians are specialists in the treatment of kids.
Another way in which “primary care” may be understand is in contrast to secondary care. Sometimes children have complicated medical situations and require the help of specialists. In these instances, the pediatric primary care doctor could make a referral to a different pediatric specialist for the child. The pediatrician usually continues to care for that child and will work in coordination with specialists involved. Yet for the more difficult and refined care that is not basic or primary, the specialist will take over and make recommendations to the pediatrician about how to implement any care instructions.