The medical services that you would commonly find in a hospital or healthcare setup include diagnostic imaging, therapy, surgery, cancer care, emergency room, and urgent care. It is essential the overview of these services are included in PACS training of imaging informatics professionals.
Diagnostic imaging services allow doctors to diagnose the medical condition of their patient. They may use diagnostic tools and technologies like X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and Ultrasound to help them visualize the internal working of their patient and come to an accurate diagnosis. (1)
X-rays are radiation forms similar to visible light but with higher energy that allows it to be passed through various surfaces in the body. Images created using these energy waves allow the doctor to assess the tissues and structures inside the body and detect any abnormality. It works by passing x-ray waves on one side of the body, with an x-ray detector present on the other side that helps form a picture by the “shadows” of bodily structures. The most common type of these X-ray detector is photographic film, but other forms may also be used to create digital images. The images formed by X-rays are known as Radiographs.
CT scans, which stands for Computed Tomography, is a special form of diagnostic imaging which takes a number of X-rays of the body from different angles. These angles are then combined using a computer, where the cross sectional images of the structures inside the person’s body can be visualized by a doctor. These may include blood vessels, bone, and even soft tissues. Many clinicians prefer this form of diagnostic imaging as compared to X-rays, as it provides a more detailed depiction of the body structures, which can also be visualized from different angles.
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is a type of diagnostic imaging that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create a detailed picture of the body structures on a computer screen. It is commonly used for the diagnosis of disorders concerning the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Some doctors may also use MRI to also safely monitor the baby in pregnant females. In contrast to CT scan, which is more effective for hard structures inside the body like bones and joints, MRI scans are more sensitive for soft structures. This is why it may also be used to assess the lymph nodes and blood vessels in conditions that are affecting these structures.
Therapy is a type of medical service which treat patients in relieving or recovering from their disorders. Therapies include:
Physical therapy involves the treatment of physical dysfunctions that patients may experience because of an injury or health condition. This is conducted by Physical therapists who are licensed and trained professionals, who may not only use this form of therapy for treatment but also for diagnosis purposes.
Occupations Therapy teaches individuals how to adapt by a series of assessments and training. It may be used for patients of all age groups, particularly those who have some form of cognitive, sensory, or physical problem. It can help them regain their independence and overcome emotional and social barriers through everyday activities and specifically designed exercises.
Respiratory therapy is performed for patients with bronchopulmonary problems. They may demonstrate breathing exercises and educate patients about the type of measure they need to take to maintain their respiratory health. They may also provide care for critically ill patients suffering from an acute respiratory or cardiac attack.
Radiation therapy may also be referred to as radiotherapy and uses a high dose of radiation waves to target cancer cells and kill them. It is popular cancer therapy and helps shrink down the size of tumors and may be given in adjunct to Chemotherapy.
Speech Therapy is designed for individuals who have difficulty in communication and experience speech problems. This form of therapy is performed by experts known as Speech-Language Pathologists, who may also be referred to as Speech Therapists. They allow the patient to communicate better through their speech, with the help of a number of sub therapies like Articulation therapy and language intervention activity.
Surgery is a form of medical service which utilizes specific operative techniques and instrumentation conducted to treat the condition of the patient. It may be open or minimally invasive in nature, which depends on how much of the patient’s body is being exposed and the resulting recovery time. Furthermore, Surgery can also be medical or dental in nature, depending on which part of the body it is being performed on. (2)
Cancer Care is a medical service that aims either to treat or manage the symptoms of cancer patients. Common medical procedures involved in Cancer care include radiation, hormone therapy, Chemotherapy, and Surgery. Cancer care also includes the provision of strong opioids for end-stage cancer patients to ease their symptoms.
Emergency Room, which is also known as ER, is a specialized medical service that the patients can come to when they are in need of immediate care, either by themselves or through an ambulance. This department is found in every hospital and provides the patients with an initial treatment, after which they may be either be admitted to the hospital or referred to a specialist for a later appointment – all of which depends on the medical condition of the patient.
Urgent care is another form of medical service which caters to patients who are not in need of an emergency medical procedure but require the consultation of a doctor on the same day. It is often confused with emergency care; however, they are not the same. What makes urgent care different from emergency care is that patients in urgent care do not have a life-threatening condition but may be suffering from a mild to moderate injury and cannot wait for the next day to get their treatment.
- Morris, P., & Perkins, A. (2012). Diagnostic imaging. Lancet (London, England), 379(9825), 1525–1533. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60429-2
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Surgery: Overview. 2006 Feb 14 [Updated 2018 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279555/