Medical treatment, also known as therapy or medicine, is an intervention used to remediate a health problem. A physician or other medical professional may recommend a specific treatment to help an individual manage a disease or condition, cure it or prevent further complications from occurring. Medical treatments include medications, surgeries and other interventions. Some examples of medical treatment include shunting fluid to drain blood from an aneurysm, surgical clipping to repair a hemorrhagic stroke or hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat deep wound infections.
Doctors who provide medical treatment usually work within health care systems, which establish legal, credentialing and funding frameworks. A doctor’s responsibilities may vary by system, but generally include the diagnosis and management of acute and chronic illnesses. Doctors also educate the public about healthy living, and participate in research and training to advance the field of medicine.
Most advanced industrialized countries have healthcare systems that ensure most of their citizens receive adequate medical treatment. This can be provided either through government-sponsored universal healthcare or through private or co-operative health insurance. In some developing nations, access to health care is limited or subsidized by the state or tribal governments.
Modern medical treatment involves teams of highly trained health professionals, besides physicians. These can include nurses, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, radiographers, laboratory scientists and other support staff. Many modern hospitals have specialized departments, such as burn treatment units and centers for high-risk pregnancy and organ transplantation, which require additional equipment and expertise beyond what is available in local hospitals.
Informed consent is the process by which a patient or surrogate agrees to a medical treatment. Ideally, the patient or surrogate is given all relevant information about the treatment options so that he or she can make an informed decision. The doctor should discuss the expected benefits, burdens and risks of each treatment option. He or she should also explain any limitations associated with the recommended treatment and provide the patient or surrogate with copies of any documents that were reviewed as part of the informed consent process.
Primary care is the medical treatment delivered by a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant at first contact with a patient. It includes diagnostic tests, health education and counseling for adults and children. Primary care may be delivered in clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, home visits and school-based health programs.
Pediatrics is the branch of medical treatment devoted to the care of infants, children and adolescents. Like internal medicine, there are many subspecialties in pediatrics for specific age ranges, organ systems or diseases.
Some health problems do not have a cure, such as type 1 diabetes. In these cases, the goal of treatment is to keep the disease under control, such as by regularly taking insulin.
Endocrinology is the study of hormones and their effects on both the human body and animals. Other branches of medical treatment include cytology, embryology, genetics and histology, which studies cells under a microscope.