Medical treatment is the diagnosis and care of patients with illness, disease or injury. It is provided by physicians and other health professionals, primarily in hospitals but also in physician offices, clinics, nursing homes, schools and home visits. It may involve procedures such as injections, tests or surgery and the delivery of medications and devices. It also may include rehabilitative and preventive care, such as physical therapy and vaccinations.
A physician’s medical education, training and experience prepare him or her to diagnose a patient’s problem and determine the best course of medical treatment. This care includes a thorough medical history and physical exam. The physician may also order laboratory and/or imaging tests to confirm a diagnosis and help formulate a plan of action. The doctor will explain the benefits, risks and possible side effects of any proposed treatment. The physician must provide the patient with all of this information in a manner that is understandable. This process is called informed consent.
The physician must also decide whether a patient is healthy enough to participate in a particular procedure or treatment regimen. This is based on the risk/benefit ratio of that treatment in that patient at that time. The doctor must also be aware of a patient’s lifestyle, preferences and values in making these decisions.
A patient may not agree to a medical treatment if he or she feels it is inappropriate or unacceptable, even if the physician concludes that it is the best option available. For example, some patients feel uncomfortable participating in a clinical trial of an experimental drug. Nevertheless, these trials are necessary to advance medicine.
Modern scientific biomedical research and the development of vaccines in the 18th century helped to replace earlier medical traditions based on herbalism and the Greek “four humours”. Medical treatments are often provided by nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants or a range of other health care professionals. Many developed countries have health care systems that guarantee access to medical treatment, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. These systems usually combine elements of public and private insurance.
The cost of a medical treatment can vary widely. A health care provider’s network and location are two important factors in determining costs. Health care providers who are not part of a patient’s insurer typically charge higher rates than those who are.
A patient can lower the overall costs of his or her medical treatment by asking for discounts and shopping around for providers. This can be done by contacting providers directly or using online tools such as the state government’s website that lists prices for common procedures. It is also important to shop for a hospital or physician’s office that offers the best value for the money. This can be achieved by comparing the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia expenses, hospital charges before and after surgery, medications and X-rays to name a few of the variables that can affect a patient’s final bill. Also, the patient should take into account that health insurance plans negotiate rates with healthcare providers.