Secondary healthcare is offered by a specialist, generally in hospitals or clinics for patients referred by primary healthcare providers. It occurs when a person has an illness or injury that requires specific medical care. Secondary care is often referred to as acute care. Secondary care can range from uncomplicated care to repair a minor laceration or treat a strep throat infection to more complicated emergent care, such as treating a head injury sustained in an automobile accident. Whatever the problem, the patient needs medical and nursing attention to return to a state of health and wellness. Secondary care is provided in physician offices, clinics, urgent care facilities, or hospitals. Specialized units include burn care, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, and transplant services.
Secondary care demands advanced or specialized knowledge, skills, and equipment, such as ultrasonography or X-ray machines that a primary care physician or a nurse practitioner could not provide. For example, a patient diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a condition in which there is degeneration of cartilage, is referred by the primary care provider to an orthopedist. The patient may be advised to undergo radiological investigations, after which the patient is prescribed medications to reduce inflammation and pain.
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