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​​​​​​​Secondary, Tertiary and Quaternary Care (Wikipedia)

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Secondary care

Secondary care includes acute care: necessary treatment for a short period of time for a brief but serious illness, injury, or other health condition. This care is often found in a hospital emergency department. Secondary care also includes skilled attendance during childbirth, intensive care, and medical imaging services.

The term "secondary care" is sometimes used synonymously with "hospital care." However, many secondary care providers, such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, most dental specialties or physiotherapists do not necessarily work in hospitals. Some primary care services are delivered within hospitals. Depending on the organization and policies of the national health system, patients may be required to see a primary care provider for a referral before they can access secondary care.

In countries which operate under a mixed market health care system, some physicians limit their practice to secondary care by requiring patients to see a primary care provider first. This restriction may be imposed under the terms of the payment agreements in private or group health insurance plans. In other cases, medical specialists may see patients without a referral, and patients may decide whether self-referral is preferred.

In other countries patient self-referral to a medical specialist for secondary care is rare as prior referral from another physician (either a primary care physician or another specialist) is considered necessary, regardless of whether the funding is from private insurance schemes or national health insurance.

Allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and dietitians, also generally work in secondary care, accessed through either patient self-referral or through physician referral.

Tertiary care

Tertiary care is specialized consultative health care, usually for inpatients and on referral from a primary or secondary health professional, in a facility that has personnel and facilities for advanced medical investigation and treatment, such as a tertiary referral hospital.

Examples of tertiary care services are cancer management, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, plastic surgery, treatment for severe burns, advanced neonatology services, palliative, and other complex medical and surgical interventions.

Quaternary care
The term quaternary care is sometimes used as an extension of tertiary care in reference to advanced levels of medicine which are highly specialized and not widely accessed. Experimental medicine and some types of uncommon diagnostic or surgical procedures are considered quaternary care. These services are usually only offered in a limited number of regional or national health care centers. Quaternary care is more prevalent in the United Kingdom.

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