An allergist, or immunologist, is a doctor that specializes in caring for allergies and disorders of the immune system. Allergists and immunologists diagnose and treat allergies and immune system disorders, and also prevent disorders and manage chronic symptoms.
Currently, there are about 6,000 board-certified allergists and immunologists in the United States.
Allergists and immunologists complete about 13 years of medical training to meet educational requirements. Students who want to become allergists and immunologists must complete medical school and earn either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). Doctors will also need to complete a residency program and a specialty fellowship program.
After completing medical school, allergists and immunologists can complete their residency program in two fields, internal medicine or pediatric medicine depending on whether they want to work with adults or young patients.
No matter which residency program allergists and immunologists complete, they will all need to go on to complete a 2-year specialty fellowship training in allergy and immunology medicine.
All doctors need a medical license to practice medicine in the United States. To gain these licenses doctors must complete lengthy exams and meet other qualifications, which will vary from state to state. Medical licenses allow the doctor to practice any type of medicine and do not show qualifications in any one area of medicine.
Allergists and immunologists gain board certification through two different boards, one from their residency and one from their fellowship. Allergists who completed a residency in internal medicine will gain board certification through the American Board of Internal Medicine, and allergists who completed their residency in pediatrics will gain their board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics.
Both allergists and immunologists who complete a pediatrics residency and those who complete an internal medicine residency will complete a fellowship program and gain board certification through the American Board of Allergy and Immunology
To maintain certification doctors are required to maintain professional standards, complete continuing education classes, and to eventually retake the examination.
Where Allergists Work
Allergists can work in a range of locations with many different types of patients. They may work in private or group practices, in hospitals, in specialty clinics, or in other fields like clinical settings, research settings, or educational institutions.
How They Help People
Allergists and immunologists treat a range of patients with a variety of medical conditions. Patients usually visit these doctors on referral from their primary care physicians, and allergists and immunologists can stay with a patient long-term and continue lifelong treatment for chronic conditions.
Allergists and immunologists treat common conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, lupus and food hypersensitivities, and may work with a variety of rare disorders.
To diagnose patients, allergists will conduct a full physical examination, talk to the patient to understand their full medical history, and will perform a variety of diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests may include allergen provocation tests, skin pricks, or intradermal and delayed sensitivity tests. Allergists will interpret test data and make a diagnosis for the patients.
Medical problems allergists and immunologists work on include:
- Allergic reactions to food, medications, and environmental factors
- Gastrointestinal disorders caused by immune responses
- Allergic diseases of the respiratory tract like sinusitis, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and occupational lung diseases
- Autoimmune diseases and auto-inflammatory syndromes
- Diseases of the immune system like immune deficiency and antibody deficiency
- Allergic conditions of the skin including eczema
Allergists and immunologists will work as a part of the patient's larger care team to manage conditions.
Medical Negligence and Allergists
Allergies and autoimmune diseases quickly become deadly for patients when treatments are mismanaged. These conditions can lead to harmful inflammation that can cause heart problems and trouble breathing. Allergists and immunologists are required to provide a standard of care to their patients, and falling below this standard can result in serious injury or death.
Malpractice under these doctors can occur in the diagnostic process if doctors reach an incorrect diagnosis, make a delayed diagnosis, or fail to diagnose the condition at all. During diagnostic tests, allergists and immunologists must be careful to not over administer allergens and to monitor patients after the tests in case of a severe allergic reaction.
Allergists and immunologists can also make mistakes in medication dosage and administration, providing too much or too little to patients, or in prescribing an ineffective or incorrect medication.
These doctors must also educate and warn patients about possible allergens and reactions, like serious side effects of a peanut allergy. Failing to do so can cost patients their lives.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured while under the treatment of an allergist or immunologist, call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian understand the serious risks patients face during allergic reactions and are experienced in reviewing records. We have a licensed physician on staff who will help identify instances of negligence and medical malpractice.
No patient should have to suffer negligent injuries from their doctor. Call us today at (800) 529-6162 to begin your case.