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About Family Medicine


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The Family Physician - April 2003
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1. Types of Health Care

            1.      Primary care

         First contact, continuous, comprehensive and coordinated essential health care provided to individuals and families in the community regardless of gender, disease or organ system.

         By means acceptable to them through their full participation and at a cost that the individual / community can afford


2.      Secondary care

         Is consultative / advisory in nature

         Assists primary care doctors with diagnostic or therapeutic dilemmas

         Involves referral, usually for short term care in a health institution


3.      Tertiary care

     Care for patients with:

         Unusual disorders/ diseases

        Disorders requiring management with expensive technology




2.  What is Family Medicine/Primary Care?


Family Medicine is the medical specialty that integrates the biologic, clinical and behavioural aspects, providing continuing and comprehensive health care for the individual and the family. It is the specialty in breadth sciences. The scope of family practice encompasses all ages, gender, each organ system and every disease entity. The specialty of family practice is the result of the evolved and enhanced expression of general medical practice and is defined uniquely within the family context.                     


American Academy of Family Physicians   (AAFP, 1993)



3. The nine features of family physicians

   1.      Family physicians are committed to the person rather   than      particular body of knowledge, group of disease or special technique

2.      The family physician seeks to understand the context of illness

3.      The family physician sees every contact with his patients as an opportunity or prevention and /or health education

4.      The family physician views his or her practice as a population at risk

5.      The family physician sees his or herself as  part of a community wide network of supportive and health care agencies

6.      Family physicians should share the same habitat as their patients

7.      The family physicians sees patients in their homes

8.      The family physician attaches importance to the subjective aspects of medicine

9.      The family physician is a manager of resources


 4. Another definition of a General Practitioner

The general practitioner is a specialist trained to work in the front line of a healthcare system and to take the initial steps to provide care for any health problem(s) that patients may have.


A general practitioner takes care of individuals in a society, irrespective of the patient's type of disease or other personal and social characteristics.


A general practitioner organises the resources available in the healthcare system to the best advantage of the patients.


The general practitioner engages with autonomous individuals across the fields of prevention, diagnosis, cure, care, and palliation, using and integrating the sciences of biomedicine, medical psychology, and medical sociology.


Olesen F, Dickinson J & Hjortdahl P. General practice - time for a new definition. BMJ 2000;320:354-357


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