What is Tertiary Care?

What is tertiary care? Answering this common question is the purpose of our piece here. Let’s get right into it.

The Basic Definition

Tertiary care is the medical terminology that refers to specialized care. This specialized care is provided by a specialized facility with specialty:

  • technology
  • tools
  • medical staff

This is the type of care one might seek when other, typical approaches are insufficient for the diagnosis and/or treatment of a medical condition. Sufferers with a rare disease, birth defect, or a complex injury are all the types of patients seen by these specialty, tertiary programs. Ailments and conditions can affect any part of the body. Tertiary doctors may therefore be specialty-trained in any area of human physiology.

Areas of Specialty

One area of tertiary practice that’s fairly well-known is substance abuse rehabilitation. Here, sufferers of drug and alcohol conditions seek treatment for their addictions and the psychological drivers behind them. A tertiary facility working in this area may provide in-patient or out-patient therapy services, depending on facility setup and patient needs. It may even serve as a pharmaceutical supplier such as in the case of a methadone clinic, supplying heroin-counteracting methadone to walk-in addicts.

An ophthalmology specialty practice is another good example of a tertiary healthcare provider. Beyond the abilities of most ophthalmology practices, the ophthalmology specialty practice might handle rare and  difficult eye disorders . This is where the patient would go in search of that specialized and more rare form of treatment and expertise unavailable via the typical ophthalmologist.

We could also look to the neurological specialist for yet another example of tertiary medical practice. The average neurologist diagnoses and treats the more common forms of nervous system disorders. Nervous disorders that are rare or only studied in-depth by a specialist would then be out of the average neurologist’s range of expertise. But it’s perfectly suited to the specialty neurologist.

Real Tertiary Facilities

We have discussed what tertiary medicine is. We’ve also covered some examples of fields of study in medicine that can be specialized. Now, to get an even better idea of some actual venues of specialty medicine, let’s look at a few examples of real-life facilities that provide tertiary practice daily.

The Caron Foundation

The Caron Foundation is a world-famous drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility located in Reinholds, Pennsylvania. This tertiary provider offers in and out-patient services as well as post-treatment, follow-up care. According to the foundation, “We also focus on treating the entire family, providing programs and treatment options that allow families to rebuild relationships and develop their own tools for personal recovery. More than just a drug rehab program, we are an integrated behavioral healthcare provider, meaning we help patients and their families develop healthy coping skills and create sober identities and friendships.” This is undoubtedly a specialty, or tertiary service, performing functions beyond the typical doctor’s means.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Spina Bifida Program

Another real-life, specialty practice is the renowned Spina Bifida Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Here, children and teens are able to receive extremely specialized treatment for the rare condition, Spina Bifida. Specialty technology and doctors are thus available here that are largely unavailable anywhere else in the world. A general doctor can certainly help a patient with this condition. However, they simply cannot provide the in-depth knowledge and tools that tertiary programs such as this one can offer to the sufferer.

Tertiary, or specialty medicine is medicine that provides advanced focus and aptitude in a particular area of physiology. This focus and aptitude are unmatched in general practice and therefore prove the value of such refined, medical practices. This is the life-saving world of tertiary care.