General Medicine (known as Internal Medicine in America) is a separate discipline of highly trained specialists who provide a range of non-surgical health care to adult patients. They care for complicated, serious or unusual medical problems and continue to see the patient until these problems have resolved or stabilised.
Much of the work of General Medicine takes place with hospitalised patients and most general physicians also see patients in their private consulting rooms.
Their broad range of expertise differentiates General Physicians from other specialists who limit their medical practice to problems involving a single organ or body system or to a special area of medical knowledge.
General physicians only see patients who are referred to them by other doctors, frequently by the patient's own general practitioner but sometimes by other specialists.
Global Approach: Whether the referral identifies one health problem or many, the general physician's assessment is always comprehensive. This global approach enables problems to be detected and diagnostic possibilities to be considered which might otherwise not be considered.
Complex Care: General physicians are specially trained to care for patients either with
1. Complex illnesses, in which the diagnosis may be difficult or
2. Multiple problems requiring an overarching, comprehensive approach to care.
The general physician's broad training provides expertise in diagnosis and treatment of problems affecting different body systems and coordinating care within the multi-disciplinary care team. They are also trained to deal with the social and psychological impact of disease.
Procedures: General physicians are trained to carry out a variety of medical procedures for the diagnosis and management of patients with severe and complex illnesses.
Diagnosis: General physicians have special training in the usefulness, limitations and costs of most diagnostic tests and employ these logically, safely and effectively to investigate difficult diagnostic problems.
Treatment: General physicians are trained in the critical analysis of up-to-date research reports and drug industry claims about new treatments. They are knowledgeable about the complex interactions of medications given simultaneously to treat multiple illnesses in a patient. The general physician has special expertise in making treatment decisions to help patients with complex and serious illnesses.
Pre- and Post-operative assessment: General physicians are frequently asked to review patients before surgery. They advise surgeons regarding a patient's risk status and can recommend appropriate management to minimize the risk of the operation. They can also assist in post-operative care and ongoing medical problems or complications.