The Functions of a Family Doctor

It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Family medicine, which in earlier times referred to what a general practitioner (GP) handled, is a specialty that aims to promote the general health of all members of the family and to prevent disease. It is a continuing process which emphasizes preventive care in the community and in the family setting.

Back in the day, the family doctor went from house to house to do general check-ups and administer vaccinations and immunizations as needed, and to treat disease such as colds, flu, most childhood maladies which do not require hospitalization or a specialist. Currently, GPs in the U.S. no longer do house calls but instead families troop into family health clinics for primary health care.

It is no secret that health care costs are rising, and the U.S. is in crisis because of the problem of the costs of caring for its citizenry. It is estimated that the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other country, and yet the quality of the health care ranks last among the developed countries. There is thus a greater emphasis on preventive health care, which will lower overall health care costs in the country by at least $4 billion annually. Currently, the average American will spend more than $8,000 a year for treatments and hospitalization.

The importance of family medicine cannot be overstressed, and yet most people do not see the value of it until they get sick. Many of the chronic diseases that plague Americans today can be traced back to a lack of general preventive care. This includes heart problems, diabetes, back pain, obesity, and liver diseases. The costs of having regular primary care for the family from a qualified GP will be offset multiple times by savings from expensive treatments and hospitalizations in the future.

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