What Does Secondary Health Care Mean?

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Secondary health care means a primary doctor refers an individual to a specialist for testing, consultation, diagnosis or treatment for a specific medical condition, according to About.com. It is more of an intermediate phase of the health care system.

A primary doctor may not have the resources to treat a particular patient, which is why secondary doctors are important. About.com gives an example of a general practitioner referring someone with heart problems to a cardiologist. A secondary doctor has credentials in a specific field such as neurology or dermatology, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. A secondary practitioner can also serve as a consultant to a primary doctor who may not have expertise in treating a special medical condition.

Secondary care is a more curative phase than primary care, which mostly deals with prevention and education. Therefore, Health Care Medical Site notes, patients go through the primary care phase before meeting a secondary practitioner. Secondary doctors generally do not meet patients without referrals. Although they have their own practices, there are times when they work in hospitals.

The Punjab Health Department notes that some aspects of secondary care, such as therapeutic and diagnostic services, are more technical. Secondary doctors may have their own advanced equipment, such as X-ray and MRI machines, to conduct more thorough patient evaluations.