Nurses can treat minor injuries and patients with, for example, mild respiratory tract infections. Nurses see patients independently but can always consult a doctor when necessary. For example, prescriptions are always approved by a doctor.
Doctors’ consultations are similar at the emergency department as anywhere else in health care. Doctors ask questions and examine the patient in a treatment room, looks at the results of any blood tests and the patient’s medical history and aims to give an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s symptoms.
However, doctors seldom have time at the emergency department to tackle chronic or long-term conditions, to order extensive tests or make care plans. Emergency department doctors focus on examining and treating acute symptoms or treating accidents and injuries. If an issue requires further treatment, the customer is asked to contact their own health centre for further examinations.
The imaging services needed to examine symptoms often take place after the doctor’s consultation, because x-rays and other imaging services usually require a doctor’s referral. Nurses are not authorised to order these examinations beforehand without consulting with a doctor.
Follow Mikko at the emergency department
Mikko’s name is finally called. The doctor, dressed in a white coat, introduces herself and takes Mikko to the examination room. Mikko has seen a poster in the lobby while waiting which says that the hospital has a no-handshaking policy to stop germs from spreading.
Mikko goes directly on the examination couch to sit and describes his stomach symptoms. After a few questions about the details of the pain, the doctor asks Mikko to lie down. The doctor palpates Mikko’ s abdomen and examines Mikko in general. When she’s ready, Mikko can get up and the doctor checks the results of the blood tests.
His blood tests show signs of inflammation. Mikko needs an ultrasound scan of his stomach so that the cause of his pain can be identified. Mikko says the pain has become gradually worse and he has not been able to eat properly all day.
The doctor says Mikko can be given painkillers and, if necessary, he may be given fluids intravenously. The consultation is over and Mikko goes back to the bed to wait for the ultrasound.