What does the term “levels of healthcare” mean? If you cannot give a succinct definition, you’re not alone. Yet, as an adult healthcare consumer, you or a loved one likely has received care from all four levels at one time or another.
Let’s talk about what primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary care in the United States looks like, including Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, FL.
What is Primary Healthcare?
Your primary care physician (PCP) in Sarasota or Lakewood Ranch, FL, delivers comprehensive medical services to help you maintain your health, prevent acute and chronic illnesses, and manage any ongoing medical issues. He or she also treats injuries, coordinates your care if you need a referral to a specialist, such as a cardiologist, prescribes therapies and drugs, and detects problems before they become symptomatic.
Your PCP keeps your medical record and distributes it when needed. He or she performs routine check-ups, administers vaccines, and keeps you out of the hospital whenever possible. In short, your primary care doctor helps you maintain your optimal quality of life. PCPs include family and internal medicine doctors.
What is Secondary Healthcare?
Secondary healthcare is loosely defined as specialty healthcare. These physicians and support professionals care focuses on single body systems and have more expertise in specific health issues you may be experiencing.
Some examples of specialists your PCP may refer you to for advanced care are the:
- Endocrinologist for diabetes management, thyroid issues, osteoporosis, or adrenal gland dysfunction
- Orthopedic surgeons for chronic musculoskeletal issues, such as arthritis, or an acute injury, like a compound bone fracture
- Gastroenterologist for gastrointestinal conditions and testing
- Otolaryngologist for ear, nose, and throat disorders
- Pulmonologists for asthma, COPD, and other respiratory system diseases and conditions
- Urology for problems associated with the male and female urinary tract in addition to male reproductive organ issues
- Cardiologist for heart and blood vessel diseases and conditions
- Oncology for diagnosis and treatment of cancer and blood disorders
Most specialists also have advanced care providers, such as physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, on their care team.
What is Tertiary Healthcare?
This level of healthcare typically involves hospitalization for more intensive health management and 24/7 observation of more medically involved conditions. You may receive tertiary care for a GI bleed due to an ulcer, stabilization after a heart attack, coronary bypass surgery, or dialysis due to acute renal failure.
Tertiary care involves technologies and complex treatments and procedures that are not available in the primary or secondary care setting including life support equipment and advanced oncology treatments. Some of these services may not be available at local hospitals and may require transfer to medical centers that provide more specialized care.
While the hospitalist directs your care in this kind of setting, he or she work closely with your primary care physician to provide excellent continuity of care. Your PCP remains responsible for your follow-up care and long-term management once you are released.
What is Quaternary Healthcare?
This level of healthcare is highly specialized, experimental, and often reserved for patients who have exhausted more conventional treatment methods. Quaternary healthcare may provide drug trials and surgeries not considered first line treatments for cancer, neurological disorders, and other complex medical conditions or injuries. This type of care many not be available at every hospital or medical center due to its specificity.
Are There Primary Care Doctors Near Me?
Intercoastal Medical Group delivers top-notch primary and specialty care in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. We have over 40 highly skilled and experienced primary care providers available for you at 10 locations. There’s one near you.
Fill out our online form to request an appointment or visit our website for more information. We’re here to deliver and coordinate all your healthcare needs seamlessly.