See Your “Primary” Doctor Before You See A Specialist

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Internists, family doctors, and pediatricians are examples of primary care doctors. They give general medical care. If you are a member of a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), your primary care doctor is the doctor you select from the HMO plan to be the “gatekeeper” of all your medical needs. This person could be a family doctor, internist, obstetrician/gynecologist, etc. Whether or not you belong to an HMO, call or see your primary care doctor before you see a specialist. If your primary care doctor cannot take care of your health problem, he or she will refer you to a specialist.

Doctors and Their Specialties

Common doctors and a description of their specialties are listed below.

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•  Allergist. Diagnoses and treats allergies.

•  Anesthesiologist. Administers anesthetics that are used during surgery.

•  Cardiologist. Diagnoses and treats diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

•  Dermatologist. Diagnoses and treats diseases and problems of the skin.

•  Emergency Medicine. Specializes in rapid recognition and treatment of trauma or acute illness.

•  Endocrinologist. Diagnoses disorders of the internal glands such as the thyroid and adrenal glands.

•  Family Practitioner. Provides total health care of the individual and the family. Scope is not limited by age, sex, or organ system.

•  Gastroenterologist. Diagnoses and treats disorders of the digestive tract: stomach, bowels, liver, gallbladder, and related organs.

•  Gynecologist. Diagnoses and treats disorders of the female reproductive system.

•  Internist. Diagnoses and treats diseases especially those of adults.

•  Nephrologist. Diagnoses and treats diseases and problems of the kidneys.

•  Neurologist. Diagnoses and treats disorders of the nervous system.

•  Obstetrician. Provides care and treatment of females during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and six weeks after delivery.

•  Oncologist. Diagnoses and treats all types of cancer and other types of benign and malignant tumors.

•  Ophthalmologist. Diagnoses, monitors, and treats vision problems and other disorders of the eye and prescribes prescription lenses.

•  Orthopedist. Diagnoses and treats skeletal injuries and diseases of the bones and muscles.

•  Otolaryngologist. Diagnoses and treats disorders that affect the ears, respiratory, and upper alimentary systems (in general, the head and neck).

•  Pathologist. Examines and diagnoses organs, tissues, and body fluids.

•  Pediatrician. Diagnoses and treats the physical, emotional, and social problems of children.

•  Physiatrist. Provides physical and rehabilitative treatment of muscle and bone disorders.

•  Psychiatrist. Treats and prevents mental, emotional, and/or behavioral disorders.

•  Radiologist. Uses x-rays and radiant energy for diagnosis and treatment of disease.

•  Urologist. Diagnoses and treats diseases of the urinary or urogenital tract.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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