Emergency medicine physicians are specialists who staff the emergency department. They have attended a residency to specifically train them to handle the initial care of all patients of all ages who come to the emergency department. All BPA emergency medicine physicians are board certified in that specialty, which means they meet the criteria and have the training to be a specialist in emergency care.
An emergency is generally considered to be a condition that is life or limb threatening. Most patients who come to an emergency department are not in that condition. The decision to come to an emergency room is entirely up to the patient. If you perceive the need for immediate care, it is best to present to an emergency department. It is our goal to determine if an emergency does or does not exist. Many times we are able to completely solve a problem for which a patient presents. Other times the full extent of a problem is unknown and we may have to consult with other specialists or recommend follow up care. We will make every effort to determine whether an emergency does or does not exist and then refer you, as appropriate, to other specialists and resources.
Some patients arrive by car and some arrive by ambulance. It is impossible to predict whether the emergency department will be busy or not. Emergencies are not predictable so, even if you call ahead, it can change at any time. Upon arrival you will be assessed by emergency department personnel who will evaluate your complaint, obtain information, and take your vital signs. You will be triaged based upon your presenting symptoms and the level and urgency of your need for care will be assessed. Every effort is made to care for the sickest patients first. You will be cared for by a physician, physician assistant and/or nurse practitioner. Our advanced level practitioners work under the direct supervision of our physicians so, even if your physician is not visible at all times, he or she is intimately involved in your care. Testing or radiologic studies may be ordered if deemed necessary by your provider. After results are back, the results and suspected diagnosis will be discussed. Admission to the hospital or discharge from the emergency department will be determined. If discharged, you will likely be referred for follow up with your primary care or other physician.
There are some conditions that cannot be cared for at certain hospitals. Appropriate specialty physicians or expertise may not be on staff at the facility to care for your needs. In these cases, a call is made to another facility to transfer your care to a place where it can be most optimally managed. It may take time to go through the process of the transfer so, if this is what is recommended to be in your best interest, we would ask for your patience. Although we understand that waiting can be frustrating, ultimately this is what is best for you and that is what matters most.
Testing is ordered to evaluate whether or not an emergency exists. Sometimes evaluation requires testing and sometimes it does not. That decision will be made by your emergency physician. Not all tests are immediately available in every emergency department. Additionally, sometimes resources are limited and only testing to evaluate for an emergency will be done by the emergency department. Additional testing may be ordered as part of your follow up care once the immediate problem has been addressed.
Most patients are discharged to go home. Sometimes, in simple cases, the care has been completed but most often follow up care is needed. You may be referred to a primary care physician or specialist. It is your responsibility to make arrangements for this care and to follow up as instructed. Remember it is your health and taking an active role is important. The physician that follows up your care may continue to care for you or provide further testing and referrals. This is what is required in many cases to get to the bottom of complex health issues.
If the decision is made that you need to be admitted, it is because your problem is acute and it has been determined that you need further care in the hospital setting. Again, this requires a process of contacting multiple providers, getting together orders for care (often from multiple sources outside your emergency physician’s control), and arranging for a room in the hospital. While we realize that waiting can be frustrating, please rest assured that we are doing all that we can to move things along as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it all takes time and we appreciate your patience throughout this process.