Your health is always something to be concerned about. Even when you’re healthy, it’s always advisable to speak with a doctor and ensure that nothing is wrong. However, you usually don’t go to a specialist when trying to determine if something is wrong, at least not straight away. Your first visit will be to a primary care physician (PCP), a doctor that handles almost any kind of medical issue, at least initially. For example, if you visit Partida Corona Medical Center, an experienced PCP will assess your presenting complaint and determine what to do. Only when your issue requires specialist care does this professional refer you to one.
What is a Primary Care Physician (PCP)?
With so many different kinds of professionals in the medical field and healthcare sector, it can be confusing for a lot of people to determine who to see when seeking medical attention. A PCP is a doctor who deals with all kinds of medical issues. Those that he/she cannot manage are referred to a specialist. Every specialist is a doctor but not every doctor is a specialist. A PCP can choose to specialize in a particular medical area during a residency program. However, they can still manage other common conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
In essence, a PCP is usually the patient’s first contact with the healthcare system.
If you choose to visit a doctor because of a stomach ache, the doctor may treat it or refer you to a specialist. However, before referring you to other medical professionals, a PCP usually knows the general outcome of your case. They can advise you on all your treatment options, allowing you to make an informed choice before proceeding to see a specialist. Even after you’ve seen a specialist, a PCP is still essential for monitoring your progress and addressing other medical issues that may arise due to the previous one.
What a Primary Care Physician (PCP) Does
As mentioned, several specialist doctors can still provide primary care. This means they offer all the medical services a usual doctor does, in addition to their specialization.
A PCP does the following:
1)Dealing With Acute Injuries and Conditions
When you visit a primary care physician due to any pain or complaint, they can do the following:
i)Perform the appropriate tests to determine the exact cause and nature of your complaint. These tests could include urine analysis, a general physical examination, or other specialized tests like a liver function test.
ii) Manage fever and dehydration by administering some drugs and injecting specially-prepared fluids (like normal saline) to address the dehydration.
iii) Manage acute conditions like asthma attacks, allergic reactions, migraine attacks, or urinary tract infections.
iv) Check for the interactions between drugs you’re taking and how they have contributed to your presenting complaints.
v) Provide wound care and manage bites, sprains, rashes, etc
vi) Assess your mental status and determine if you need psychiatric help.
2) Preventive Treatment
Assessing for abnormal body conditions and early signs of disease is part of a wellness program offered by many primary care physicians. They can screen for numerous conditions and illnesses, including:
ii) High cholesterol levels
iii) Cancers like those of the prostate, breast, cervix and colon, and rectum
iv) Abnormal growth patterns and development in infants
v) Risk factors for conditions like chronic heart disease and stroke
vi) Sexually transmitted infections
3) Assessing and Managing Chronic Conditions
Having a chronic condition like high blood pressure (hypertension) usually requires regular visits to your primary care physician. This is to determine if the prescribed treatments are working or not. Your PCP can help to coordinate your care with all the other specialists you may have to see. PCPs also help in the management of autoimmune diseases like lupus. Additionally, PCPs can help to adjust your treatments accordingly.
Choosing a Primary Care Physician for You
With so many doctors working as primary care physicians, it can be tough to find one to your liking. A PCP will usually see you multiple times a year and this will likely lead you to form a relationship with them. Therefore, when choosing one, ensure that there is a certain level of rapport. This is because your PCP will likely see you during your worst moments when medical emergencies occur. You want someone around whom you can be comfortable with to ensure the treatment goes smoothly. A primary care physician is like the emergency button that you press to get an effective medical response.