When you have an illness or injury, receiving the correct medical attention is of utmost importance. Whether you need to manage symptoms long-term, were recently diagnosed or are on the road to recovery, finding the correct level of care can make all the difference.
What are the levels of care and how can you access the medical help you need?
Levels of care
There are four levels of care, designated by the difficulty of cases that doctors in each level can handle. Most people have a primary care physician that treats them for things like seasonal flu or a sprained ankle.
Specialists are secondary care providers. These doctors can specialize in a part of the body, like cardiologists, or a particular medical condition, like oncologists.
Tertiary care is highly specialized health care, and usually requires hospitalization or advanced treatment technology. Neurosurgery and organ transplants often fall into this category. The fourth level, quaternary, is essentially an extension of tertiary that includes rare conditions and experimental medicine.
In order to receive a higher level of care, it is often your doctor’s responsibility to refer you or request the services from other medical specialists. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to access the level of care necessary if your doctor refuses to transfer you. Left untreated, or when treated improperly, injuries and illnesses often worsen.
Communicate with your physician and make sure they are aware of your symptoms. If they fail to recommend the care you need, they may be committing medical malpractice.