Emergency Surgery

At Baptist Health, We Treat Emergencies with Surgical Precision

Treating emergency medical conditions often calls for surgery. Every Baptist Health Emergency Department is staffed with a multidisciplinary team of medical specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week to evaluate and admit patients for major surgical procedures.

What Are the Different Kinds of Surgery?

There are three main types of surgical procedures, based on how quickly they need to be performed: 

  • elective surgery
  • required surgery
  • urgent or emergency surgery

Elective surgeries are optional and can be scheduled ahead of time. Required surgeries are necessary for improving a patient’s health but can also be scheduled ahead of time. Surgeries for urgent or emergency conditions must take place immediately or in the very near future. 

How Will I Know if I Need Emergency Surgery?

When you go to a Baptist Health Emergency Department for a life- or limb-threatening illness or injury, members of our medical staff will examine you promptly. If they determine that your condition requires surgery, you’ll be admitted to the hospital for any necessary procedures.

Surgical procedures require informed consent. In the informed consent process, a patient learns about the purpose, benefits, and potential risks of a medical or surgical intervention and then agrees to receive the treatment. You will typically be asked to sign an informed-consent form. 

Certain emergency procedures form a partial exception to this rule. If you are unconscious or otherwise unable to provide informed consent, and no one else is available to represent you, the medical staff will proceed with treatment, on the assumption that you would want it performed to save life or limb. 

What Is EMTALA? Do EMTALA Regulations Apply to Me?

EMTALA is an acronym for the “Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.” This is a federal law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, EMTALA “requires hospital emergency departments to medically screen every patient who seeks emergency care and to stabilize or transfer those with medical emergencies, regardless of health insurance status or ability to pay.” 

EMTALA regulations mostly affect the quality of medical and surgical care provided to the indigent and other individuals with a reduced ability to pay. 

What Are Some Common Emergency Surgeries?

Here is a partial list of major surgeries resulting from emergency admissions:

  • Emergency abdominal surgery. Certain disorders affecting your abdomen, which contains your digestive organs, can be life-threatening and require surgery for correction. Causes include intestinal obstructions, hernias, abscesses, punctured or ruptured organs, and restricted blood flow. These are typically accompanied by intense pain. 
  • Emergency gallbladder surgery. The gallbladder is a storage organ for bile produced by the liver. Most of the diseases that affect this organ, including gallstones, block or restrict the flow of bile to the small intestines, and can be quite painful. Surgery is sometimes required for treating gallstones, up to and including gallbladder removal.
  • Emergency heart surgery. There is a wide range of surgical procedures involving the heart, including angioplasty, valve surgery, bypass surgery, cardiomyoplasty, stent placement, and transplants, which can be performed on an emergency basis.
  • Emergency hernia surgery. Organs are herniated if they partially protrude through a tear in the membrane containing them, most commonly the abdominal wall. This can lead to a medical emergency if blood flow to the organ is blocked. Symptoms may include fever, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and severe pain at the hernia site. Surgery can correct the problem. 
  • Emergency hiatal hernia surgery. A hiatal hernia involves the protrusion of the stomach into the chest cavity through a hole in the diaphragm. It can be treated with surgery. 
  • Emergency hip replacement surgery. Hip fractures involve breaks in the upper femur or pelvic bones and are considered orthopedic emergencies. Falls are a leading cause. Emergency surgery may lead to the replacement of the hip bone with an artificial prosthesis.
  • Emergency hysterectomy surgery. Hysterectomies are surgical procedures for removing part or all of a woman’s uterus. Emergency hysterectomies are rare, performed primarily to stop severe uterine bleeding following the birth of a child. 
  • Emergency neck surgery. Neck surgeries are typically undertaken to relieve pressure on nerves or the spinal cord caused by bulging discs, bone spurs, cysts, tumors, or a narrowing of the spinal canal. Symptoms can include neck and arm pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the limbs. In some cases, the pain and potential neurological damage is severe enough to warrant surgery. 
  • Emergency coronary artery bypass surgery. The surgeon will use blood vessels from another part of the body to bypass around the heart arteries that have blockages.
  • Emergency sinus surgery. Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses. Surgery is sometimes used to treat it in those cases where medication is ineffective. In rare cases, typically in persons with compromised immune systems, sinusitis can require an emergency surgical procedure.
  • Emergency ulcer surgery. Ulcers are small lesions that form in the lining of the stomach or small intestines. They’re typically caused by a bacterium, Heliobacter pylori, and treated with antibiotics. The success of proton pump inhibitors and other drugs has reduced the incidence of ulcers. Surgical treatment is limited to emergency situations, when drugs prove ineffective or other medical complications occur.

Be Prepared for a Medical Emergency

In any medical crisis, it’s best to be prepared. Make sure you program all emergency numbers into your cell phone or keep a list by your telephone at home. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1. 

Next Steps with MyChart

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