What Is Medical Treatment?

A medical treatment is a health care procedure used to diagnose, cure, relieve or prevent illness, disease or injury. Treatments include diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, surgery and medications. Medical treatments may be prescribed by a doctor or administered by other trained health care professionals. Medical treatments are based on the scientific principle that an imbalance in body systems causes illness.

When doctors give their patients health advice and their insurers pay for recommended treatments, most people assume that the recommendations are based on solid evidence. But a large proportion of clinical practice is not. A British Medical Journal study analyzed thousands of treatments and found that more than 40 percent had no proof of benefit, and another 3 percent were probably harmful. Another 6 percent weren’t clear whether they were effective or not.

The definition of “medical treatment” includes not just traditional treatments but also any health care procedure that may be recommended by a physician or other qualified person. However, it does not include visits to a physician for observation, counseling, diagnostic procedures or first aid.

Typically, medical treatment is performed in a hospital or other licensed health care facility. Exceptions are a trip to a physician for an emergency consultation, which is not a medical treatment, or a visit solely to obtain an X-ray examination, if the condition for which a patient is being seen doesn’t require diagnosis or treatment. Observation of a patient in a hospital due to a serious health condition is considered a part of medical treatment if it is ordered by the attending physician or otherwise required by a physician’s orders.

A doctor’s diagnosis of an illness or disorder is a crucial step in determining a course of treatment. The diagnosis is an important step because it helps to determine which medical treatments may be beneficial and which ones are likely to be ineffective or harmful. To make a valid diagnosis, a physician must use a number of criteria, including physical examination, laboratory tests, X-rays and medical history.

The current method of treating most patients is to send them from one type of health care professional to the next in a kind of spontaneously assembled “pickup team.” The patient starts with a family physician, then might see an orthopedist or a neurologist. When a patient is in pain, the physician might refer him or her to a physical therapist. Patients are often given multiple prescriptions for different drugs and undergo radiology testing on a regular basis. Epidemiology, the discipline that studies patterns of disease and their cause, is an essential component of good medical care, but few physicians have a firm grounding in it. Without it, no physician can hope to make rational decisions about treatment. Having such a background allows physicians to quickly identify what the latest scientific evidence is and how it can be applied to an individual patient. This is critical to the success of any treatment. The ability to interpret and apply the evidence is a fundamental skill that all physicians should have.

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