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Primary Care Physician

Primary Care Physician



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More than 84 percent of Americans reported visiting a doctor or other health care professional at least once in the past year. A number of those visits were to a primary care physician.But while most know that we should have a primary care physician, you might not realize their true role, or how often you should visit them.Keep reading to learn what you need to know about choosing a primary care physician and planning your visits.

What Does a Primary Care Physician Do?

Primary care physicians are medical doctors trained to diagnose a variety of illnesses and injuries. In addition to providing a diagnosis, they are also able to treat many types of injuries and illnesses. They are equipped to help patients prevent certain common conditions as well.

Some of the services that a primary care physician performs include:

  • Routine physical exams
  • Prescribing antibiotics and other medications to treat illnesses
  • Prescribe birth control
  • Treat minor injuries and illnesses like colds, the flu, or sinus problems
  • Help patients to manage chronic pain and conditions
  • Screen patients for common medical problems
  • Refer patients to specialists for injuries and illnesses

Illnesses and injuries that are more serious or that are rare may not always be treatable by a primary care physician. In this instance, your primary care doctor may refer you to a specialist.

In some cases, specialists may require that you seek a referral from your regular doctor before you can get an appointment with them.

What Kinds of Primary Care Physicians are There?

Primary care physicians are often treated as an all-in-one doctor that patients see when they’re hurt or ill. However, there are actually several distinct types of primary care physicians. You’ve likely heard of each of these types, though you may not realize that they fall under the category of primary care.

The five types of primary care physicians include:

  • Family care doctors
  • Pediatricians
  • Internal medicine doctors
  • Internal medicine doctors for pediatric patients
  • OB-GYNs

Primary Care Physician VS. Pediatrician

Adults over the age of 18 should see a family care doctor as their primary care physician. Children under the age of 18 will see a pediatrician, who will specialize in conditions and illnesses, as well as treatments, targeted towards younger patients.

After leaving the hospital, new babies will start to see a pediatrician right away as their regular care doctor.

Internal Medicine Doctors

An internal medicine doctor, sometimes called an internist, specializes in diagnosing and treating a variety of illnesses and conditions. Some conditions that internists may treat include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

Internal medicine doctors are also trained to diagnose medical problems that have puzzled other doctors. This includes chronic pain without a clear cause.


An OB-GYN, or obstetrician-gynecologist, are healthcare professionals that specialize in female health, and specifically, female reproductive health.

While they do deliver babies, this is not their sole purpose. OB-GYNs also treat a variety of conditions that affect the female reproductive system, including sexually transmitted infections, PMS, or chronic pain.

When Should You See a Primary Care Physician?

Too many people only visit a doctor when they are ill or injured. But a 2019 study found that Americans who had primary care had a better experience overall with their health care. Regular visits to a primary care physician allow you to build a relationship with your doctor. This allows them to spot conditions early and offer more effective treatment plans based on your past experiences and what they have found to work for you.

There is not one single answer about how often individuals should see a primary care physician. If you suffer from an ongoing medical condition or chronic pain, you may need to see your doctor several times a year.

Healthy adults under the age of 50 may be able to visit their primary care doctor once every 3 years. Those over the age of 50, whether in good health or not, should see their doctor once a year. That’s because after the age of 50, the risk of ongoing medical conditions developing increases. Early intervention is key to minimizing symptoms and finding an effective treatment for a variety of conditions.

How to Find the Best Primary Care Physician

Following an accident, you might not have the time to research the doctor you see in the emergency room. However, you can take measures to ensure that you have a primary care physician on hand when you need them. Finding a primary care physician isn’t something that you should wait to do until you need to visit them.

Whether you have recently moved to a new area or simply do not have a primary care doctor, take the time to find one. Check with your insurance company to ensure that your visits will be covered. You can also utilize online reviews to make sure that other patients have had a good experience at the doctor and medical office you’re planning to visit.

Seeing Your Primary Care Physician Following an Accident

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, visiting your primary care physician might not be the first thing on your mind. When you suffer serious injuries, you’ll likely visit an emergency room for treatment. And if you don’t suffer severe injuries, you might simply go home to rest and recover.

However, if you were the victim of an accident and someone else was at fault, it’s important to make a visit to your primary care doctor.

If you visited the E.R., follow up with your primary care doctor for a checkup. They can check your injuries to ensure they’re healing properly. They can also provide vital documentation that your injuries were the result of the accident. The same goes for any minor injuries you might have suffered during the accident. While they may not seem serious, you should still see a doctor. Those minor injuries could be masking a more serious problem.

Having documentation about what caused your injuries can be vital when it comes to seeking coverage for your medical bills and compensation for your pain and suffering. With the help of a personal injury lawyer, the records obtained from your primary care doctor can go a long way towards proving to the responsible party’s insurance company that they need to pay for the injuries you’ve suffered and the care that you needed.


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