For patients in need of immediate treatment for traumatic musculoskeletal injuries, orthopedic trauma surgeons and ER (emergency room) doctors can respond. These two types of medical experts share the same goal, which is to save the patient, but their skill set is very different.
Let’s take a look at the fundamental differences between an orthopedic trauma surgeon and an ER doctor.
What Does an ER Doctor Do?
An ER physician will treat all patients who come through the door. These doctors are well-trained in stabilizing an injured patient, and this is their first goal.
This type of doctor assesses the patient and provides initial emergency care. This may include starting a blood transfusion, inserting an IV (intravenous) to provide fluids, starting oxygen therapy if the patient’s oxygen levels are low, ordering further testing, and deciding on treatment.
If the ER doctor diagnoses a traumatic injury in the bones or muscles, the physician may order specialized treatment by an orthopedic trauma surgeon.
What Does an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon Do?
An orthopedic trauma surgeon specializes in the surgical treatment of patients who are suffering from physical trauma and severe injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Patients who have been involved in an accident and have severe injuries to their bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and related tissues will be treated by an orthopedic surgeon so the injuries heal properly.
Orthopedic trauma surgeons are trained to act quickly, as time is of the essence in cases of major trauma. These physicians are not always in the ER, but they will come to the ER if a patient requires emergency surgery.
Specialists vs. Generalists
The main difference between an ER doctor and a trauma surgeon lies in specialization. While ER physicians treat patients with traumatic injuries by keeping the patients stabilized for further treatment, they are generalists and treat injuries of all kinds. An orthopedic trauma surgeon, however, performs the surgery to repair injuries that are specific to the musculoskeletal system.
Both the ER doctor and the trauma surgeon receive the same education in medical school, but their training after graduation differs. An ER doctor spends three to four years in a residency program, whereas an orthopedic trauma surgeon spends five to six years in a residency program plus another several years in a fellowship, specializing in complex musculoskeletal trauma and treatments.
Therefore, more difficult-to-treat musculoskeletal injuries are often referred to the specialized care of an orthopedic trauma surgeon. These physicians treat patients who have problems with infection in the bones or muscles, complex fractures, fractures that are healing improperly or out of alignment, and torn muscles.
Orthopedic Trauma Surgeons in Greater Cleveland
Our orthopedic surgeons at Orthopaedic Associates have the specialized expertise to diagnose and treat broken bones, torn muscles, torn ACL, and other traumatic musculoskeletal injuries caused by car accidents, while playing sports, or simply by falling or moving the wrong way.
Note: If you have a life-threatening injury, call 911.
Contact us today at (440) 892-1440 to schedule an appointment, and our trauma surgeons will evaluate and treat your injury – and create a personal treatment plan that’s best for you. Our team treats orthopedic traumatic injuries with compassionate care that focuses on you, so you can heal as quickly as possible and get back to enjoying everything life has to offer.