Family medicine (also called family practice) is pretty much what the name implies: comprehensive medical care for patients of both sexes and all ages. The specialty of family medicine was first recognized in 1969. The major focus of Family Medicine is on primary care, with an emphasis on disease prevention, health promotion and the aim of providing comprehensive, personal and ongoing care. A patient might see a family medicine doctor from childhood through middle age to his senior years.
Going to the family practice doctor for a physical exam annually is essential because regular visits and screenings with a doctor who knows you will ensure that your health is where it should be. A family doctor who knows you well will identify any changes in your health, then diagnose and treat any conditions in their earliest stages. Most conditions are more easily and more effectively treated in their early stages.
Most family medicine doctors take care of patients of all ages. Some offer prenatal care and deliver babies. Family medicine includes well-woman care, preventive services for patients of all ages and special care for older adults (geriatrics). A family medicine doctor might care for children, parents, and grandparents from the same family. Some family medicine doctors also have special interests, such as sports medicine or adolescent medicine, diabetes management or wound care.
Part of a family physician's job is to coordinate care as well as find the right specialist when needed for the patient. The family doctor is the person who is most likely to have complete records about all of the patient's care, whether primary or specialty. Generally, the family doctor will be the person who initiates a referral to a specialist. He or she will get copies of the specialist’s records, communicate with the specialist as necessary and coordinate all medical care so nothing gets fragmented.
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