When physicians discuss immunizations and screenings with patients, they may refer to them as preventative care or as preventive care. In reality, there is no difference in the two terms except for the spelling. Both terms have been around for many years, although the term preventative has often been seen as a degradation of preventive. Of course, independent physicians and preventive care (or preventative care) are linked together as primary care practices typically emphasize those services to their patients.
Both terms have been used since the 17th century, when independent physicians and preventive care appeared in print slightly earlier than the association with preventative medicine. By the 19th century, however, the term preventative was looked at as “unseemly.” John Russell Bartlett was adamant when writing in A Dictionary of Americanisms, published in 1848, that preventative was “A corruption sometimes met with for preventive both in England and America.”
As recently as 1964, a letter to the editor of the JAMA Journal asked, when referencing the story of a professor who would fail his students for using “preventative” in the title of his class on preventive medicine, “Is it possible that preventative has become acceptable or respectable because many people prefer it to preventive?” The editor responded that “most people prefer the shorter and slightly more venerable form of the word.”
Whether it is referred to as preventative care or preventive care, it is critical for healthcare outcomes. Independent physicians urge their patients to keep on track with screenings and immunizations that can prevent debilitating conditions and catastrophic illnesses. Primary care physicians know that blood pressure checks, tests for diabetes, and screenings for cancers can detect illnesses before they become major issues for the patient.
Most preventive services are covered under insurance plans, direct care plans, and Marketplace coverages. When these services are available to the patient at no additional cost, it makes sense to stay on schedule with the preventive – or preventative – measures to ensure quality patient outcomes.