Levels of preventive medicine?

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Preventive medicine has four levels, with an additional level for unborn children. The levels are named numerically and focus on preventing disease in populations, diagnosing diseases at an early stage, preventing further progress and complications, and protecting people from unnecessary medical interventions. Primary prevention involves adequate prenatal care and support for parents.

Preventive medicine attempts to delay the progress or stop the onset of disease, rather than focusing solely on treating an existing disease. The classification system for preventive medicine has four levels and an additional level for the care of the unborn child. Specific levels of preventive medicine are designated depending on the absence or presence of disease and illness. The levels are named numerically, with primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary levels in addition to the primary level for caring for the developing fetus. While much preventive care falls within the realm of public health, the goal of this type of care is for individuals and physicians to implement suggested preventive strategies.

The primary level of preventive care is focused on preventing disease in populations by eliminating its causes or increasing people’s resistance to disease. In this stage, disease and illness are not present. Using data collected by epidemiologists helps public health professionals set goals for the primary level of preventive care. This can include anti-smoking campaigns and laws, seat belts and safety regulations, and education about lifestyle choices. Extensive public programs to help keep food and water supplies secure are other aspects of this level.

During the secondary level of preventive care, a disease is diagnosed at an early stage, usually before the person has any obvious disease. This stage uses diagnostic tests to help discover the disease so it can be treated while it’s still in early development. Many of the strategies used in level one are still used during this level in addition to specific treatments. Using both treatment and primary strategies could help delay the onset of more serious disease.

When obvious symptoms of disease are present, preventive medicine has entered the tertiary level of care. Again, primary stage strategies are generally still in place, but the focus has changed from preventing the disease to preventing further progress and complications of a disease. Treatments are used to reduce the risk of disability or death. Along with treatment, various forms of rehabilitation are used during this stage. At all stages, the role of the health system is to optimize health by minimizing disease and suffering.

The main goal of quaternary prevention is to protect people from unnecessary and excessive medical interventions. This is not a separate level of preventive medicine. Rather, it is suggested that this concept of moderation be integrated into all levels of preventive care. Patients in the healthcare system may be at risk of over-intervention resulting in excessive diagnostic tests and medical interventions. An excess of medical care could lead to a loss of quality of life without corresponding additional health benefits.

There is a separate category for preventive care of the unborn child. This is commonly called primary prevention. It involves adequate prenatal care and provides support to parents. This includes parenting education detailing aspects of health affecting the baby before, during and after pregnancy. Primary prevention also includes adequate family leave so that both parents can care for the newborn.

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