What Is Medical Treatment?

Medical treatment is any action taken by a health care professional to diagnose, measure, monitor or treat a disease or injury. All treatments have benefits, risks and possible side effects, so it’s important to discuss them with your doctor before undergoing any procedure. Non-surgical medical procedures include diagnostic tests, such as blood work or X-rays, and prescription medications, including antibiotics and antidepressants. Surgical procedures, such as removal of a tumor or skin biopsy, can be more invasive and carry more risk than non-surgical medical treatments.

When a patient sees a doctor for a specific problem, the physician usually refers the patient to a specialist or expert in that area. The referral is a way for the specialist to ensure that he or she has all the information needed to evaluate the patient and recommend the best course of treatment.

A patient may also seek out a specialist on his or her own, either by asking for a referral from his or her primary care doctor or by simply calling and making an appointment. Many large academic centers have specialists in each disease, and the Internet can help patients track down the physicians and institutions with the most experience.

Before a doctor can start treating a patient, he or she must get a complete history and physical examination. This includes a list of the patient’s symptoms (sometimes called the chief complaint), family history and current activity, as well as a description of the patient’s past medical history — including what treatments were given for previous illnesses. This information is sometimes called the patient’s medical record or medical history.

Some health problems have no cure, and treatment is aimed at keeping the condition from worsening. For example, people with type 1 diabetes will take insulin for the rest of their lives to keep their blood sugar levels in a normal range. But new scientific discoveries are constantly being made, and it is possible that some conditions will have a cure in the future.

Medical research often uses controlled experiments to determine what treatments are most effective. However, it is difficult to control for every variable. One person’s body might react differently than another’s, or a treatment might only be useful in certain parts of the world or among certain groups of patients.

Internal medicine is a broad discipline that focuses on the study, diagnosis and medical & surgical treatment of adults. There are many subspecialties of internal medicine, focusing on different organ systems, diseases and types of care delivery. Pediatrics is a special branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis and treatment of children. Physical medicine and rehabilitation (or physiatry) is concerned with the improvement of movement and function after illness or injury. And diving medicine is devoted to the prevention and medical treatment of dive-related disorders.

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