Definition and Overview
An emergency consultation is a visit to an emergency department when urgent medical attention is necessary. It is for patients with pressing medical needs that require immediate treatment, usually in the form of first aid, with the purpose of preserving life and minimizing the long-term effects of their medical condition.
Hospital emergency departments, also known as ER (emergency room), A&E (accident and emergency), or the casualty department, specialize in handling medical emergencies and providing acute care to all patients who visit them for a consultation, regardless of whether they came on their own or called for an ambulance. Thus, emergency care specialists are trained to deal with a broad range of health risks.
Emergency consultations are provided both by hospital emergency departments and independent urgent care centers. In recent times, these facilities are being compared. The recent trend of standalone emergency care centers was sparked by the long wait times, strict hospital policies, and large patient volumes that make it hard for patients to receive high-quality emergency care in hospital-based centers.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
It is of extreme importance that a person who requires urgent medical care goes straight to a hospital’s emergency department for an emergency consultation. The priority of emergency care is to prevent the loss of limb or death.
Emergency medical conditions include, among many others, the following:
- Heart attack
- Electric shock
- Broken bones
- Large open wounds
- Large lacerations
- Broken bones
There are also some symptoms classified as “majors” and warrant prioritized care at an emergency room. These include:
- Severe abdominal pain
Severe chest pain
On the other hand, the following are considered as non-urgent medical conditions:
- Mild allergic reactions such as rashes
- Minor cuts
How Does the Procedure Work?
Since the purpose of an emergency consultation is to provide immediate medical intervention, there is no need to secure an appointment. Any person in need of first aid treatment or is facing a medical emergency can simply go to a hospital emergency room or an urgent care center without having to call first. These medical facilities are available round-the-clock to receive patients who encounter a medical emergency even at nighttime when the doctor’s office is already closed.
Patients can go to the emergency room either on their own or via an ambulance. When brought in by an ambulance, the paramedics in the ambulance will call the hospital even prior to their arrival so that the patient can be immediately assessed and receive the appropriate type of care. Emergency rooms are also fitted with a resuscitation area complete with the necessary equipment to deal with the most life-threatening conditions.
The primary purpose of the emergency consultation is to stabilize the patient’s condition to effectively address the threat to the patient’s life, even when the injury or health risk arose when the doctor’s office is already closed. Once the initial threat to life has been resolved, the patient will then receive the main treatment for his condition.
All emergency room staff is required by law to provide medical care to all patients. Due to the wide array of medical conditions that send people to the emergency room, patients are classified depending on the urgency of their condition. This helps ensure that patients who are in more critical condition are given the first priority.
Patients are evaluated using a process called the triage, which takes into consideration the following factors:
- Chief symptom or complaint
Over the course of providing primary treatment, emergency staff may perform some diagnostic tests to assess the patient’s condition and its extent. These include:
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Blood test
- Urine test
Possible Risks and Complications
The goals of emergency consultations are to prevent the loss of life by administering first aid when needed and reduce the potential risks and complications the patient may suffer from due to the medical emergency. Thus, it is important for individuals to be aware of the emergency room or urgent care center that is nearest to where they live. To ensure the best treatment results and to minimize the risk to the patient’s life, it is crucial that a person in need of emergency medical attention be brought to the emergency room or urgent care center at the soonest possible time. In some emergency situations, the difference of just a few minutes in the patient’s arrival time at the hospital can make a big difference in the outcome of the emergency situation.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. How to Use the Hospital Emergency Rooms Wisely. Available at: www.ahrq.gov/news/columns/navigating-the-health-care-system/081908.html. Accessed October 27, 2014.