Medicine is a branch of health science that deals with maintaining and, if needed, restoring human health by treating any disease or injury that may occur. Medicine is both an area of knowledge and an applied practice. Medical care is a complex field, with many interconnected domains and teams of specialists, ranging from surgeons to psychiatrists and pharmacists, regulated by very rigorous laws.
Medicine has a long tradition; there are references to healthcare even in early recorded history. Although often associated with magic, medicine began to be regarded as a science in antiquity. Some ancient medical care systems were very advanced, like Traditional Chinese Medicine which is still used as an alternative to traditional Western medicine.
Branches of medicine
Medicine has a large number of branches, studying the functioning of the organism at every possible level: physical (anatomy, cytology, embryology), chemical (biochemistry, genetics), physiological (physiology, nutrition, immunology) and so on. These areas are interconnected, and medicine works as an unitary system.
The practice of medicine is regulated by strict laws in most modern society. The laws regulate the nature of the relations between doctors and patients, how medicine should be financed, performed and many other aspects, in order to ensure a correct medical practice.
The common procedure in modern medicine is the so-called SOAP procedure, when the doctor collaborates with the patient, documenting the following aspects:
- S, the subjective aspect -- the patient's description of the medical history.
- O, the objective aspect -- this is the result of medical examination, that can display the medical history from a scientific point of view.
- A, the assessment -- the decision making itself
- P, the planing -- which documents further actions to be taken.
The medical encounter is documented in a medical record. The medical record is a document that falls under medical and civil law, and can be used in the court.
Medicine is normally practiced in three forms:
- Primary health care, which is provided by doctors who have a first contact with a patient seeking medical advice or help. This is practiced in a variety of areas -- ranging from clinics to houses and schools.
- Secondary health care, which is provided by medical specialists in hospitals and clinics, for a patient who has gone through the process of primary health care and has been referred for further healthcare.
- Tertiary health care is practiced in special caring units with facilities that do not exist in regular hospitals -- like burn treatment centers or organ transplant facilities.