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Emergency room (ER) doctors rule out emergencies and resuscitate those in extremis. ER doctors also help by relieving pain and suffering as well as reassuring people. ER doctors stabilize people as much as possible in the emergency department. There are things that they can often fully treat themselves with the tools and medicines available in the ER and there are conditions that require consultants and other specialists to fully treat. Some of these things may happen in the ER and some may happen in the hospital or as an outpatient. Emergency physicians perform medical screening exams to evaluate for life threatening conditions to a reasonable degree.
Emergency room physicians are trained to take care of any illness or injury that needs immediate care. Watch Pamela Miller, of Fawcett Memorial Hospital, discuss the variety of services offered in the emergency room.
Emergency room doctors are trained to recognize life-threatening conditions and stabilize patients for the care they need. In this video, Elaine Nelson, MD, Emergency Medicine Medical Director of Regional Medical Center of San Jose, explains more.
In this video, ER physician Jen Waxler, MD, from Brandon Regional Hospital, offers insights into the responsibilities and types of medical care that emergency room doctors provide.
Emergency doctors focus on determining if an illness is life-threatening in a short amount of time, says Justin Williams, MD, of Methodist Stone Oak Hospital. Watch this video to learn more about emergency room doctors.
Every physician working in an emergency room (ER) has certain responsibilities, which include:
- Evaluating your condition -- The emergency medicine (EM) doctor will ask you about your problem and examine you to determine what might be wrong. Not all cases are straightforward. Tests or a second opinion may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis. Your diagnosis may not be made until after all the test results are back. You may not leave the ER with a definite diagnosis; however, the EM doctor will have determined that it is safe for you to go home and refer you for further testing and evaluation as an outpatient.
- Ordering tests and blood work -- Depending on your problem, tests may have already been started before the EM doctor sees you. This means that the doctor was alerted by the nurse of your condition or standing orders related to your complaint and vital signs were followed. If your care involves going to the operating room, blood tests will be necessary and possibly an ECG. Understand that test results are not always positive or negative. The doctor has to evaluate the results in the context of what brought you to the ER, your complaints, vital signs and how you feel at the moment. The testing process can take time.
- Ordering medication -- The medication ordered is based on your current complaint and diagnosis, as well as your medical history. This is where an accurate list of medications and problems you have, or have had, are important.
- Discovery -- Based on your exam and your test results, a determination of the most likely diagnosis will be made and the appropriate medical care plan will be created. Some patients will have no clue as to how close they came to dying before being saved by emergency treatments.
- Call your personal physician -- Be sure to have contact information for your personal physicians available so the EM doctor can call him or her with any questions or concerns.
- Order consults -- When your condition is unclear or is so complicated that immediate care by another specialist is warranted, a call will go out to either a specialist of your choice or the on-call physician for that specialty. Hospitals are mandated to have specialty resources available to back up the EM doctors. Often a phone consult is all that is needed. If the specialist needs to see you, you might have to wait a while because they seldom work in the ER. If you’re in a teaching hospital, specialists are more likely to be readily available.
Emergency room (ER) doctors are typically the first doctors to see a patient visiting a hospital. They assess medical conditions and determine if that person can be treated from the ER and sent home or if they need to be admitted to stay longer for further work-up and treatment. There are many conditions that doctors treat in the ER, such as acute infections and minor injuries. They also serve a very important role in stabilizing critical patients (such as trauma patients or patients with immediate, life-threatening conditions) before admitting them into the hospital. Emergency medicine is a specialty that some doctors are trained in after medical school.
Emergency room doctors provide general care to patients. In this video, Gabriel Rodriguez, MD of Metropolitan Methodist Hospital explains how ER doctors care for the patients they see.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.