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Accident and emergency nursing refers to professionals who work in emergency rooms or other emergency settings to care for patients in need of urgent care. Nurses working in this department will often be the first medical professionals to assess and treat patients who need immediate care for a wide range of injuries or illnesses; the severity of such injuries or illnesses can vary significantly, so part of accident and emergency nursing is performing triage, which is essentially prioritizing patients by the immediacy of their conditions. People with life-threatening injuries or illnesses are treated first, while others are prioritized according to the threat of long-term damage or illness.
Emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, which means accident and emergency nursing will require a professional to work various shifts. Some nurses work day shifts exclusively, while others work only night shifts; still others may change shifts and work both night and day shifts. An assessment of the volume of patients will give a hospital an idea of how many nurses need to be on hand at any given time of day. Accident and emergency nursing staff may be bolstered during busier times, while a bare bones crew may work slower times of day or of the week.
Nurses in this field are specifically trained in accident and emergency nursing; it differs from other types of nursing because of the urgency of some injuries and illnesses, the practice of triage, and other basic duties that an emergency nurse must perform. This is very often a high stress position, and the nurse will need to be prepared not only for a myriad of injuries and illnesses, but also for various types of patients. Dealing with hostile patients is often a part of the training for accident and emergency nursing professionals.
Such nurses must also be able to do the appropriate paperwork as it pertains to each individual patient. This means documenting the arrival of a patient, gathering insurance information if any exists, and preparing a medical chart for that patient. The nurse will also have to fill out any paperwork to address accidents or incidents that occur in the emergency care facility. All treatments given to a patient must be documented, and charts need to be prepared for a doctor who will actually treat the patient. If a patient needs to be transported to another facility or to a different department within the same facility, the nurse may be responsible for organizing such a transport and tracking the paperwork that goes along with it.