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What Is The FMEC?

What Is the FMEC?

Family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person. They treat each organ, every disease, all ages and both genders. The cornerstone of family medicine is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

Unlike other physicians who specialize in treating one particular organ or disease, a family physician is uniquely trained to care for you as a whole person – regardless of your age or sex. In addition to diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, a family physician provides routine health screenings and counseling on lifestyle changes in an effort to prevent illnesses before they develop. And, if a health condition arises that requires care from another specialist, the family physician will be there to guide you and to coordinate all aspects of your care. You and your family physician will work together to achieve the best possible outcome in the most cost-effective manner.

But don’t take our words for it. Listen to what a sub-specialist has to say…

Family medicine: somebody's got to be in charge, preferably somebody who actually knows the patient and is longitudinally committed to them! In this era of super-specialization, we have greater need than ever for personal connections which motivate and encourage patients, and a sense of responsibility for oversight and 'the big picture.'

Recently I witnessed what can happen when someone does not have an involved primary care doctor. I spent three months earlier this year seeing a good friend through 9 transfers among medical institutions for three strokes and multiple associated complications, including the significant distress all this caused. There were reams of printed transfer and discharge instructions handed to a woman who lives alone and can no longer read, no verbal instructions on dietary interactions with Coumadin, hundreds of perfunctory lung and heart exams without actually finding out how the patient was doing and what questions she had, and a written prescription upon discharge from the last rehab facility that actually read 'PT once weekly with results to be sent to PCP NOT TO ME.' But the doc failed to ask if she actually had a PCP (primary care physician). (She did not.) I saw specialists upon specialists with little to no coordination of care. Information got charted and printed and coded and billed and paid--but not very effectively communicated to the patient.

Family docs: we need you now more than ever, and we salute you!

Lisa A. Pawelski, MD
Dermatologist (and wistful former Internist)
in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA