A registered nurse may treat minor injuries as well as, for instance, patients suffering from a respiratory tract infection. The nurse treats the patient independently, but always retains the chance of consulting a physician.
The physician’s consultation is required, for example, on those occasions a patient’s treatment requires prescription medication.
A physician meets patients in the emergency department under the same circumstances as they would anywhere else in the health care system. The doctor examines and interviews the patient in their office or at the patient’s bedside, consults any blood tests and previous medical record that may exist for the patient, and seeks to arrive at a diagnosis based on the symptoms and studies.
The emergency department focuses on treating the acute symptoms or injury
The emergency department’s nurses and physicians usually do not have the opportunity to make in-depth investigations of a patient’s chronic illness, order large-scale testing, or make far-reaching treatment plans. If the patient’s ailment requires further study, the patient will be asked to contact their local health care clinic for further treatment.
Imaging studies need a referral
Imaging studies in order to investigate a symptom usually take place after a visit to the doctor, because X-ray and other imaging studies need a physician’s referral. A nurse does not have the authority to schedule a patient for imaging studies.