The practice of modern medicine

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In The Netherlands, departments of general practice are administered by general practitioners in all the medical schoolsan exceptional state of affairsand general practice flourishes. In the larger cities of Denmark, general practice on an individual basis is usual and popular, because the physician works only during office hours. In addition, there is a duty doctor service for nights and weekends. In the cities of Sweden, primary care is given by specialists. In the remote regions of northern Sweden, district doctors act as general practitioners to patients spread over huge areas; the district doctors delegate much of their home visiting to nurses.

In France there are still general practitioners, but their number is declining. Many medical practitioners advertise themselves directly to the public as specialists in internal medicine, ophthalmologists, gynecologists, and other kinds of specialists. Even when patients have a general practitioner, they may still go directly to a specialist. Attempts to stem the decline in general practice are being made hy the development of group practice and of small rural hospitals equipped to deal with less serious illnesses, where general practitioners can look after their patients.

Although Israel has a high ratio of physicians to population, there is a shortage of general practitioners, and only in rural areas is general practice common. In the towns many people go directly to pediatricians, gynecologists, and other specialists, but there has been a reaction against this direct access to the specialist. More general practitioners have been trained, and the Israel Medical Association has recommended that no patient should be referred to a specialist except by the family physician or on instructions given by the family nurse. At Tel Aviv University there is a department of family medicine. In some newly developing areas, where the doctor shortage is greatest, there are medical centres at which all patients are initially interviewed by a nurse. The nurse may deal with many minor ailments, thus freeing the physician to treat the more seriously ill.

Nearly half the medical doctors in Australia are general practitionersa far higher proportion than in most other advanced countriesthough, as elsewhere, their numbers are declining. They tend to do far more for their patients than in Britain, many performing such operations as removal of the appendix, gallbladder, or uterus, operations that elsewhere would be carried out by a specialist surgeon. Group practices are common.


China. Health services in China since the Cultural Revolution have been characterized by decentralization and dependence on personnel chosen locally and trained for short periods. Emphasis is given to selfless motivation, self-reliance, and to the involvement of everyone in the community. Campaigns stressing the importance of preventive measures and their implementation have served to create new social attitudes as well as to break down divisions between different categories of health workers. Health care is regarded as a local matter that should not require the intervention of any higher authority; it is based upon a highly organized and well-disciplined system that is egalitarian rather than hierarchical, as in Western societies, and which is well suited to the rural areas where about two-thirds of the population live. In the large and crowded cities an important constituent of the health-care system is the residents' committees, each for a population of 1,000 to 5,000 people. Care is provided by part-time personnel with periodic visits by a doctor. A number of residents' committees are grouped together into neighbourhoods of some 50,000 people where there are clinics and general hospitals staffed by doctors as well as health auxiliaries trained in both traditional and Westernized medicine. Specialized care is provided at the district level (over 100,000 people), in district hospitals and in epidemic and preventive medicine centres. In many rural districts people's communes have organized cooperative medical services that provide primary care for a small annual fee.

: 11/11/2009