Preventive medicine


Preventive medicine or preventive care consists of measures taken to prevent diseases,[1] (or injuries) rather than curing them or treating their symptoms. This contrasts in method with curative and palliative medicine, and in scope with public health methods (which work at the level of population health rather than individual health). Occupational medicine operates very often within the preventive medicine. Increased use of preventive care (e.g., regular doctor visits) is one way of reducing health care spending. Official budget scores of U.S. universal health care proposals state that most of its savings would be from providing preventive care to the uninsured.[2] Canadian physicians, who provide universal health care including preventive care, found that they could lower their total health care expenditures by 40% simply by increasing appropriate and reducing inappropriate preventive care measures.[3] A single uninsured cancer patient diagnosed at stage four can incur over half a million dollars in hospital bills in a few months, which must be borne by all other health care consumers, when the same diagnosis at stage one with preventive screening would cost much less.[4] However, preventive care is typically provided to many people who would never become ill, and for those who would have become ill, it is partially offset by the health care costs during additional years of life.[5] Levels Preventive medicine strategies are typically described as taking place at the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary prev ntion levels. In addition, the term primal prevention has been used to describe all measures taken to ensure fetal well-being and prevent any long-term health consequences from gestational history and/or disease.[6] The rationale for such efforts is the evidence demonstrating the link between fetal well-being, or "primal health," and adult health.[7][8] Primal prevention strategies typically focus on providing future parents with: education regarding the consequences of epigenetic influences on their child,[9] sufficient leave time for both parents, and financial support if required. This includes parenting in infancy as well. Simple examples of preventive medicine include hand washing, breastfeeding, and immunizations. Preventive care may include examinations and screening tests tailored to an individual's age, health, and family history. For example, a person with a family history of certain cancers or other diseases would begin screening at an earlier age and/or more frequently than those with no such family history. On the other side of preventive medicine, some nonprofit organizations, such as the Northern California Cancer Center, apply epidemiologic research towards finding ways to prevent diseases. Prevention levels[10] Doctorís side Disease absent present Patientís side Illness absent Primary prevention illness absent disease absent Secondary prevention illness absent disease present present Quaternary prevention illness present disease absent Tertiary prevention illness present disease present