The current buzz-word is “primary care.” A shortage of this commodity has been diagnosed, and a number of prescriptions written to remedy the deficiency. However, although we talk about the manifestations of the syndrome a good deal of ambiguity about the criteria for diagnosis remains. Precisely what is this thing called “primary care, “ and how will the steps proposed to increase its availability affect the total health-care system? Definitions of primary care are numerous and not always consistent. One hears such phrases as “first contact,” “continuing responsibility” and “whole patient.”1 The themes usually revolve around some combination of comprehensive.