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20 Apr 2024, Edition - 3203, Saturday

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The vanishing tribe called family doctors

Covai Post Network


Once upon a time, there used to be a super-specialist that worried family members would call when someone falls ill. He would come home to find out what was wrong with the patient. He didn’t need elaborate medical test reports or equipment to diagnose the problem. All he needed was a thermometer and blood pressure measuring device. Usually, treatment would consist of a pill or two, lot of counseling, and some friendly admonishments.

Miraculously, the patient would recover too!

This super-specialist was the family doctor. Here is a healer who knew the medical history of the entire family.

Strangely, they are fast disappearing. But, the National Board of Medical Examination has now said that family doctors are crucial because they are the backbone of the healthcare industry.

Families trusted them. These doctors were almost part of the family, sharing their happiness and grief. “A family doctor provides primary healthcare to the family. He acts as a physician, psychologist, family counselor, and, sometimes even a matchmaker,” quips Dr. G. Baktavatsalam, Chairman of KG Hospital.

The concept of family doctor is being revived in the UK, mainly due to reduce the expenses involved in treating the patient at the hospital. Each doctor takes care of about 2000 families. Patients have to be referred to the hospital by the family doctor.

A new avatar of the family doctor concept is the “on-call” doctors. “Families with elderly relatives can retain the services of these doctors for a monthly fee. This avoids the cost, panic and effort of rushing the patient to the hospitals,” says senior citizen and advocate YV Visweswaran.

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