What we do

DEGAM, the German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians, adopted the following resolution at its Annual General Meeting on September 21, 2002.

The Discipline of General Practice concerns the provision of basic health care to all patients with physical and mental health problems in the form of emergency, acute and long-term care. It also plays an important role in the areas of prevention and rehabilitation. As the first port of call, general practitioners specialize in helping patients with all kinds of health problems.

General Practice takes somatic, psychosocial, sociocultural and ecological aspects into consideration. When interpreting symptoms and findings, it is particularly important to appreciate the importance of the patient’s understanding of his disease, his environment and personal history (hermeneutic approach).

General Practice is based on lasting doctor-patient relationships and a medical history that is experienced by the doctor first hand as a result of the broad scope of his responsibilities and the continuity of provided health care. It belongs to the doctor’s work to deal with the epidemiological peculiarities of a non-preselected group of patients and the special conditions surrounding the decision-making process that ensue (cautiously observe developments in low-risk patients; consider possibilities to prevent a disease taking a dangerous course).

General Practice aims to provide high-quality health care that protects the patient, but also endeavors to avoid over- and under-treatment, as well as treatment errors.

The responsibilities of General Practice are:

  • To adopt a gatekeeping role in primary care by means of a stepwise approach to diagnosis and therapy that is both responsible and appropriate with respect to the patient and society as a whole, and involves specialists where necessary
  • To be a family doctor, and to provide care to patients within their family and social environments, including the home (home visit)
  • To promote health literacy, particularly by providing health advice and engaging in health promotion activities for both the individual and the community as a whole.
  • To play a coordinating and integrating role, especially by making targetted referrals to specialists and managing the coordination between different levels of care. The GP also takes responsibility for combining, analyzing and documenting results, as well as providing help and care services for the patient in his home environment.