Ask an Emergency Medicine Specialist Online
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1. What Is an Emergency Medicine Specialist?
Emergency medicine specialists are doctors who are specialized in management of serious, urgent, and life-threatening medical situations. To become an emergency medicine specialist, a doctor needs to complete medical school, followed either by a residency in emergency medicine or by a residency in a primary care specialty (internal medicine, family practice, general surgery, or paediatrics) complemented by an emergency medicine training program. Additional training may be obtained in subspecialties such as hospice and palliative care, anesthesiology critical care medicine, internal medicine-critical care medicine, medical toxicology, paediatric emergency, sports medicine, and undersea and hyperbaric medicine.
Emergency medicine specialists provide immediate and short-term medical care spanning almost all areas of medical science. They evaluate, diagnose, plan, and treat while working closely with other specialists including family practitioners, neurosurgeons, oncologists, endocrinologists, paediatricians, and others. They are specially trained to make immediate lifesaving decisions to prevent further harm or death.
Emergency medicine specialists often work in pre-hospital settings where they stabilize or revive patients and then transfer them to a specialty for further treatment. They have a broad knowledge of all areas of medicine.
2. When Should I See an Emergency Medicine Specialist?
In case of an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency phone number if you or someone around you experiences signs of an emergency that cannot wait, including:
• Stopped breathing
• Head injury with passing out, fainting, or confusion
• Injury to neck or spine, especially if there is loss of feeling or inability to move
• Electric shock or lightning strike
• Severe burn
• Severe chest pain or pressure or other signs of a heart attack
• Seizure that lasted 3 to 5 minutes
• Suddenly not able to see, hear, walk, move, speak, or understand speech
• Sudden loss of balance or confusion
• Sudden weakness, drooping on one side of the body, or paralysis
• Uncontrolled bleeding
• Severe allergic reaction with trouble breathing, swelling, hives
• Poisoning or overdose of drug or alcohol
Go to an emergency department or call 911 for help for problems such as:
• Eye or head trauma
• High fever
• Trouble breathing
• Unusual or bad headache, especially if it started suddenly and is very intense
• Dizziness or weakness that does not go away
• Inhaled smoke or poisonous fumes
• Heavy bleeding
• Possible broken bone
• Deep wound
• Serious burn
• Coughing or throwing up blood
• Severe pain anywhere on or in the body
• High fever with headache and stiff neck
• High fever that does not get better with medicine
• Throwing up or diarrhoea that does not stop
• Mental crisis, including suicidal thoughts or behaviour
• Animal bites
• If pregnant, contractions, water breaking, a sudden decrease in fetal movements, or vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain
If you or your loved one is suffering from a serious chronic illness such as asthma, diabetes, and heart problems, you should ask your doctor about warning signs and what to do in case of a crisis.
3. What Kind of Tests or Procedures Does an Emergency Medicine Specialist Perform or Recommend?
Common tests required by emergency medicine specialists may include:
• Blood tests, including complete blood count, metabolic panel, toxicology, arterial blood gas tests, cardiac enzymes, coagulation tests, and others
• Urine tests
• Microbiological tests
• Pregnancy test
• Imaging tests including X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound
• Electrocardiogram (ECG)
Emergency medicine specialists may perform numerous procedures, including:
• Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
• Intubations such as nasotracheal, endotracheal, nasogastric
• Cardiac pacing
• Pericardiocentesis, thoracocentesis, or paracentesis
• Wound care
• Fracture reduction and placement of casts or splints
• Burn care
• Local, topical, or regional anesthesia
• Gastric lavage
• Lumbar puncture
4. What Questions Should I Ask an Emergency Medicine Specialist?
You may want to ask an emergency medicine specialist or ask an emergency medicine specialist online these kinds of questions:
• What do the tests reveal? What is the cause of the problem?
• What is the plan of action? What do you suggest next?
• What treatment do you recommend? What are the chances of success for this treatment?
• Are there any side effects of the treatment you recommend?
• Is there any alternative treatments?
• What medical tests will be done?
• Do you think we should contact another specialist?
• How long a hospital stay will this require?
• Is this condition survivable?
• How long will recovery take?
• What therapy will be needed afterwards? How will it help with recovery?
• What symptoms indicate a call to the doctor? What symptoms are a sign of an emergency?
• What lifestyle changes will help with recovery?
• How often should follow-up appointments be scheduled?