A primary care hospital is a hospital which offers primary care services to patients. Primary care is the main point of contact for patients entering the health care system, whether they are making an appointment for routine vaccinations or going to the doctor about a chronic cough. A variety of services are offered at a primary care hospital, including referrals to specialty hospitals and providers who can provide advanced care to patients who cannot be treated in a primary care facility alone.
At a primary care hospital, patients have access to a number of preventative care services including routine health screenings, vaccinations, and health education. They can also receive maintenance care for chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, and asthma. Both maintenance and preventative care are designed to keep patients as healthy as possible, and to identify emerging issues before they become a major problem, reducing the caseload on more advanced care providers and improving quality of life for patients.
The facilities at a primary care hospital also include options for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The facility can include an emergency department which deals with critical cases, stabilizing patients and providing referrals for long term care, along with the option for primary care appointments with physicians who can meet with patients to address health concerns which are not critical in nature, but could become an issue if left untreated. These primary care or general physicians are equipped to deal with a wide range of medical conditions, and they establish long term relationships with their patients.
Many health care systems are structured to place a heavy emphasis on primary care, with the goal of encouraging people to seek medical attention early. Once a patient enters a primary care hospital, his or her providers can make decisions about further treatment, which can include recommendations to a specialist who can address a specific issue which is beyond the scope of a hospital or care provider. For example, a patient who needs cancer treatment will need to meet with an oncologist to discuss cancer treatment options.
Many nations have a rating system for primary care hospitals which is based on the type of treatments they provide. These ratings consider the level of trauma a hospital is equipped to handle, the specialists on staff to provide specialist care, and the hospital's mission. For the hospital, such ratings are important, as they can restrict access to government funding, and they can be a concern for care providers who are considering positions at the hospital. A trauma surgeon, for example, might prefer a highly ranked trauma center which offers an opportunity to work on complex and challenging cases.