Internal medicine is a specialty branch focused on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and compassionate care of adults encompassing a broad spectrum of health conditions including complex ailments. Doctors are specially trained to diagnose multiple puzzling problems in chronic ailments in patients with one or more conditions. Internal medicine specialists, also known as Internists (not to be mixed up with interns) treat patients with long term chronic ailments like hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, chronic lung disease and obesity.
Other subspecialties of internal medicine include immunology, endocrinology, hematology, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, nephrology, oncology, pulmonology and rheumatology. Even though internists function like primary care physicians, they do not fall under the category of family physicians or general practitioners. Their expertise may not be solely focused on adults but may also include surgery, pediatric care and obstetrics.
Similar to primary care physicians, internists often refer patients to other subspecialties based on specific diagnosis even for cancer screenings if required. An internal medicine doctor can also consult with other specialists to confirm a diagnosis and to set up treatment plans.