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Pulmonologists are doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treating of respiratory conditions including cancer, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Currently, there are about 10,000 licensed pulmonologists practicing in the United States.
To become a pulmonologist, doctors must first graduate from an accredited medical school with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.). After graduation, doctors will be required to complete a 3-year residency program in internal medicine.
Pulmonology is a specialty field medicine, so after completing a residency program doctors who want to become pulmonologists will need to complete a 2-3 year fellowship in pulmonology.
Pulmonologists can also choose to study pediatrics during the residency program and go into pediatric pulmonology.
All doctors need medical licenses to practice medicine in any state. Medical licenses are controlled at the state level, and each state has slightly different qualifications for medical licenses. Medical licenses permit doctors to practice all types of medicine and do not show qualifications in any one area.
Pulmonologists will need board certification in multiple areas. After completing the residency program, doctors can become board certified in internal medicine through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Once doctors have completed the fellowship program they can also be board certified in pulmonology by the ABIM, and critical care by the ABIM (separate certifications).
Where Pulmonologists Work
Pulmonologists work in a variety of settings where patients need them including doctor’s offices in private or group practices, hospitals, and emergency rooms. Pulmonologists often work on call in case of emergency need.
These doctors may also work in clinical or educational settings.
How They Help People
Pulmonologists are doctors that diagnose and treat conditions in the respiratory system including the lungs, chest, and bronchial tubes. Pulmonologists help patients manage chronic diseases and also treat emergency needs of patients as well as conditions affected by environmental factors.
Most of the work pulmonologists do involves helping patients manage chronic diseases like asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer. Pulmonologists will complete a full physical examination of patients and will talk to the patient about personal and family medical histories. The pulmonologist may listen to the patient’s heart and lungs to check for abnormalities.
To treat chronic conditions, pulmonologists can prescribe a number of treatments such as antibiotics, steroids, or inhalers. Pulmonologists may help patients treat environmental or lifestyle factors, like smoking, asbestos, or severe allergies, and will provide palliative care through breathing machines, oxygen therapy, or a variety of other treatments to patients to alleviate severe symptoms.
Pulmonologists may perform a variety of diagnostic tests including lung volume testing and spirometry tests to measure breathing capacity, and lung diffusion tests to measure the rate of oxygen entering the blood stream.
Pulmonologists do not perform surgeries but they may perform some invasive procedures like biopsies to test for cancer cells and bronchoscopies to examine lung tissues. To complete a bronchoscopy, pulmonologists will sedate the patient and then insert a thin, lighted tube into the lungs. Pulmonologists may also perform balloon angioplasties to keep airways open.
The average salary of a pulmonologist is $160,000.
Medical Negligence and Pulmonologists
The American Lung Association estimates that about 25 million Americans are suffering from an obstructive pulmonary disease (like asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema) with or without knowing it. These diseases can have sudden, devastating results when they are not diagnosed in a timely manner and properly managed. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, patients can suffer a rapid onset of airway inflammation and stop breathing.
Pulmonologists must help their patients understand the nature of these diseases, including what triggers episodes and how to avoid triggers. These doctors must also help patients understand when and how to use medications.
Pulmonologists are also sometimes involved in diagnosing lung cancer. Currently, about 1 out of 4 cancer deaths is due to lung cancer, translating to about 158,000 deaths every year. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is low, below 20%, making delays in diagnosis potentially fatal. Pulmonologists must accurately perform imaging scans and biopsies if lung cancer is suspected, and need to effectively interpret and communicate diagnostic test results.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a negligent injury while under the care of a pulmonologist, you may be eligible for compensation for your suffering. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can evaluate the facts of your case and determine if malpractice occurred.
The legal side of medical malpractice cases can be very complicated, but an experienced attorney will know how to evaluate your case and get the compensation you deserve.
Call Gilman & Bedigian today to schedule a free consultation and to begin your case. Our attorneys have a record of success in protecting clients across Maryland. Call (800) 529-6162