Healthcare Delivery System

Medical Levels of Care and Medical Referrals

This diagram shows in a non-technical way how each level of care can move the patient to the next level of care.

LEVEL ONE: PRIMARY CARE Most of us have become familiar with the term primary care physician. The primary or first level of care - for example, those health and medical needs treated by your family physician in an office - usually only requires your personal or family physician. Primary Care Physician, Family Physician or Public Health Clinic
LEVEL TWO: SPECIALTY PHYSICIAN CARE Sometimes a primary care physician will seek the opinion of a specialist concerning treatment. Your primary care physician may refer you to a medical specialist in the medical field that is needed. Specialist Physician
LEVEL THREE: HOSPITAL CARE The medical opinions of the specialist and the primary care physician can form the basis for a referral to a third level of care - outpatient hospital services or an ambulatory (outpatient) surgical center. Should 24-hour care be needed, you could be referred for inpatient care. Acute Care General Hospital or Ambulatory Surgical Center
LEVEL FOUR: SPECIALTY HOSPITAL CARE Sometimes special equipment or highly specialized physicians are needed to return a patient to health. The fourth level of care may require a specialty acute care hospital. It may be a teaching or research hospital or other specialty unit or facility. Specialty Acute Care Hospital