Most of us have experienced a trip to the emergency room at least once in our lifetimes. It can be a very scary and traumatizing event, depending on the severity of the emergency. The one advantage of going to an orthopedic emergency hospital as opposed to a regular emergency room is that if you have an orthopedic injury such as a broken pelvis or hip there will be healthcare professionals that specialize in orthopedics to assist with your care.

What Does Orthopedic Mean?

The word “orthopedic” stems from the study of the branch of medicine known as orthopedics. If a person has orthopedic surgery it means they are having surgery on a part of the body that is connected to the musculoskeletal system.

Where some surgeons are specifically trained on the heart, and others on the brain or the kidneys, or whatever other parts of the body that they specialize in, an orthopedic surgeon specializes in the bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and other tissue that makes up the musculoskeletal structure of the body.

Whether it is the hands and wrists, feet and ankles, the hips and spine or any other part of the body that is connected to this system the orthopedic specialist will be trained and educated on it.

Orthopedic and Other Emergencies

When it comes to emergencies the doctors never know what kind of injuries they will have to deal with at any moment during their shift. People come to the emergency room at all hours day and night with an endless possibility of problems. One person could come in for COVID 19 symptoms, another could be there because they have bad pain in their abdomen, while somebody else could be there because of an automobile accident.

People visit the emergency room for:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Broken bones
  • Deep cuts
  • Burns
  • Severe pain

There is a seemingly endless list of reasons that somebody could come to the hospital emergency room.

Most of the time when a person has an orthopedic emergency it is because of a traumatic injury to some part of their body. In many cases when a traumatic injury takes place the patient will have injuries to the musculoskeletal system as well as some of the internal organs as well such as the spleen or the liver.

When patients experience high-speed automobile accidents or become injured from a high fall or heavy equipment accident they can end up with very severe injuries. Multiple fractures throughout the body in addition to a ruptured spleen, a bruised pancreas, or even a damaged brain are incredibly severe and need immediate attention.

Sometimes a patient will require several different specialists to help them with their emergency. This is why it is important for hospitals to have a plethora of different types of specialists on hand or on call.

When a patient comes to the emergency room with an injury the doctors on call will have a general understanding of medicine, but will not always be specialists in one area or another. When a patient visits the emergency room of an orthopedic hospital there will be orthopedic surgeons as well as regular doctors.

Types of Orthopedic Emergencies

Orthopedic emergencies happen for tons of reasons. For example, there was a woman that had experienced an epileptic seizure that caused her to have a stroke at the same time. During this episode, there was a lack of oxygen and blood that could travel to her hands and fingers. The episode lasted so long that it caused permanent damage to many of the fingers on both of her hands, and some of the toes on her feet.

Because of the lack of circulation to her digits, they began to die away while they were still connected to her. They became dark and curved inwards much like the claws on a crow. As for the orthopedists being able to repair her damaged fingers and toes, it was not a priority at the time because her entire body shut down as she convulsed on the floor.

Although the doctors were able to get her through the convulsions and the stroke, as for her fingers and toes it would be up to an orthopedist to figure out a solution for repairing the damage.

Other types of orthopedic emergencies are less dramatic such as:

  • Broken arms
  • Broken legs
  • Fractured spine
  • Fractured hips
  • Broken pelvis
  • Broken jaw

As you can imagine, any of these types of injuries could accompany another one. Many people that wind up in the emergency room with orthopedic trauma suffer from multiple broken bones including spines and skulls.

What is Considered an Emergency?

Any time there is a broken bone it can be considered an emergency. However, broken ribs, broken fingers, and broken toes can sometimes wait until the next day to see a doctor. Unless, of course, the bone is protruding from the skin or the rib has punctured a lung.

Whenever the patient is facing death, the loss of a limb, or is unconscious it is considered an emergency and should be dealt with as such. It is best to get that person to an emergency hospital as soon as possible.

Situations such as these can be considered emergencies:

  • Can not breathe
  • Chest pain
  • Compound fracture
  • Head injury
  • Severe laceration/bleeding
  • Immobilizing pain
  • Loss of vision

Orthopedic Trauma Surgeons vs. ER Doctors | Orthopedics Associates

Since the body is prone to so many types of ailments that could cause death, paralysis, and disfigurement there are countless scenarios that could be considered emergencies.

Will Orthopedic Emergency Rooms Treat Non-Ortho Emergencies?

Regardless of the type of emergency a person is having, any emergency room will treat them regardless of what the hospital specializes in. The medical industry is committed to saving llives, not controlling them.

If a person having a heart attack is taken to an orthopedic emergency facility, the staff will still be able to treat them. Emergency doctors are skilled in the practice of medicine and are familiar with all types of traumatic injuries and illnesses.

If a hospital has an emergency room it is considered an emergency facility and will be prepared to take on any emergency that could become present.

Location and Destination

Most of the time when there is a life-threatening emergency the ambulance will take the patient to the nearest hospital that has an emergency room. Regardless of what group the hospital associates with, the type of insurance the patient has, or even the patient’s preference.

If the patient has an emergency in a place that is 5 miles from the closest ER, but the patient’s preferred hospital is 15 miles away the EMTs will not hesitate to bring them to the closest facility available because with serious injuries time is of the essence and a person could die if they wait too long to get treatment.

However, if the emergency is for an orthopedic injury that is not essentially life threatening but could lead to paralysis or other permanent damage that same EMT will most likely take the patient an extra 5 or 10 miles to the nearest orthopedic emergency hospital so that an orthopedic specialist will be able to handle the injuries.

In most cases, whenever there is a medical emergency, the emergency professionals that show up at the scene will take the patient to the best possible location for the types of injuries the person has.