Have you ever wondered how the health care system is organized? Angel MedFlight gives you a brief overview of the progression through the health care system.
Most of us are very familiar with primary care – it’s usually the first place we turn for new symptoms or general concerns like a cold, virus, sprained ankle or mysterious rash, etc. Primary care providers, or PCPs, may be doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, etc.
If a condition cannot be managed by your PCP, you will be referred to secondary care (a specialist), for examination by someone with more specialized expertise on your particular issue.
Specialists focus on specific body systems, diseases or conditions. For example, cardiologists are experts in the heart and its pumping system. A pulmonologist’s expertise is the respiratory tract. Oncologists treat cancers.
If a patient is hospitalized and requires a higher level of specialty care, he or she may be referred to tertiary care. Tertiary care requires highly specialized equipment and expertise such as neurosurgery, neonatology, severe burn care, reconstructive surgery and any other very complex treatments or procedures.
An extension of tertiary care, quaternary care is even more specialized. Examples would be experimental medicine and procedures, and very rare, specialized surgeries.