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Primary Care Definition 2

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Definition #3 - Primary Care Physician

A primary care physician is a specialist in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine or Pediatrics who provides definitive care to the undifferentiated patient at the point of first contact, and takes continuing responsibility for providing the patient's comprehensive care. This care may include chronic, preventive and acute care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Such a physician must be specifically trained to provide comprehensive primary care services through residency or fellowship training in acute and chronic care settings.

Primary care physicians devote the majority of their practice to providing primary care services to a defined population of patients. The style of primary care practice is such that the personal primary care physician serves as the entry point for substantially all of the patient's medical and health care needs - not limited by problem origin, organ system, or diagnosis. Primary care physicians are advocates for the patient in coordinating the use of the entire health care system to benefit the patient.

Definition #4 - Non-Primary Care Physicians Providing Primary Care Services

Physicians who are not trained in the primary care specialties of family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics may sometimes provide patient care services that are usually delivered by primary care physicians. These physicians may focus on specific patient care needs related to prevention, health maintenance, acute care, chronic care or rehabilitation. These physicians, however, do not offer these services within the context of comprehensive, first contact and continuing care.

The contributions of physicians who deliver some services usually found within the scope of primary care practice may be important to specific patient needs. However, the absence of a full scope of training in primary care requires that these individuals work in close consultation with fully-trained, primary care physicians. An effective system of primary care may utilize these physicians as members of the health care team with a primary care physician maintaining responsibility for the function of the health care team and the comprehensive, ongoing health care of the patient.

Definition #5 - Non-Physician Primary Care Providers

There are providers of health care other than physicians who render some primary care services. Such providers may include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and some other health care providers.

These providers of primary care may meet the needs of specific patients. They should provide these services in collaborative teams in which the ultimate responsibility for the patient resides with the primary care physician. (1975) (2006)

*In this document, the term physician refers only to doctors of medicine (M.D.) and osteopathy (D.O.).

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