An otolaryngologist, or an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor, is a doctor who specializes in studying, diagnosing, and treating problems with the ears, nose, and throat, and parts of the head and neck. They provide care to patients who have diseases of or injuries to sinuses, larynx, mouth, and upper pharynx. Otolaryngologists can treat many issues, such as ear infections, hearing loss, allergies, and cancers of the head and neck.
There are also subspecialties of otolaryngology, including:
- Facial and plastic reconstruction
- Pediatric otolaryngology
Otolaryngologists perform various aspects of ear, nose and throat care, including treating:
- Sleep apnea
- Ear infections
- Hearing loss
- Nose bleeds
- Cancer of the head and neck
Problems with the head, ears, throat, and nose are serious because they are dangerously close to the brain, potentially causing serious damage or even death. ENTs need to be very vigilant regarding the seriousness of the patient’s concerns.
When diagnosing and treating a patient, an ENT should look at the patient’s history, physical examination, biopsy, diagnostic studies, and surgery. Should an ENT fail to order the correct test or fails to properly interpret a study that had been ordered, or in some other way fails to diagnose or treat the patient appropriately, then he or she may be liable for medical malpractice.
Failure to properly treat a patient can result in serious injury, and potentially devastating brain injuries. For example, a doctor treating a patient for sinusitis in all of his sinus cavities may fail to drain the patient’s sinuses or administer proper antibiotics, resulting in a worsening condition, and the infection progressing to the brain, causing devastating brain damage. Another example is a patient has a polyp in their nose and when the surgeon attempts to remove it, the thin layer of bone between the nasal cavity and the brain is perforated, and a portion of the brain is removed as well.
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