What Is Medical Treatment?

A medical treatment is something that a health care provider prescribes or performs to treat, cure or relieve symptoms of illness. It can include medicines, therapies and sometimes surgeries. A treatment can make a health problem better, worse or stop it completely, and the choice of what to do depends on the patient’s condition, age, preferences, cytogenetic analysis (an examination of the chromosomes in blood, bone marrow or lymph nodes) and other factors. For example, some health care providers use antifungal drugs to treat athlete’s foot and other infections, which may clear up with a few weeks of medication. Some treatments, like vaccination and blood transfusions, can also prevent or delay disease or cure existing disease.

A doctor’s job is to help people with their health decisions and treat them for their illnesses, not to tell them what to do or believe. When doctors are unsure about the best treatment option for their patients, they should consult colleagues and/or review the latest scientific evidence. It is also important for health care providers to give patients information about the risks and benefits of different treatments, and to explain how a particular treatment may affect a patient’s quality of life and ability to work.

Physicians are trained to understand and apply the basic sciences of medicine, which include anatomy, physiology and pathology. Some physicians have specialized in a specific field, such as cardiology, gastroenterology or rheumatology. Others have chosen to focus on a certain area of the body, such as the bones, eyes, blood vessels or lungs, while still others have taken a cross-disciplinary approach, working with specialists from other areas of the hospital to diagnose and treat their patients.

The first step in a medical encounter is to take the patient’s history. This includes a description of the current illness (history of present illness, or HPI) and a family history. It is usually recorded in a patient’s chart, which is also known as the medical record. This chart is a legal document in many jurisdictions, and it is the source of all medical records, including follow-up visits and specialist consultations.

Some patients want to try anything to save their lives, including untested treatments. It is understandable that they would be desperate, but it is much safer for them to enroll in a clinical trial of new medications than to simply start using those treatments without knowing how well they might work or what side effects they might have.

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