Note: The following should not be interpreted as medical advice or legal advice for any specific situation. It is provided as general information and an update on the constantly-evolving COVID-19 crisis in Georgia.
One of the biggest threats posed by the COVID-19 outbreak is that new cases are expected to overwhelm our medical system within weeks. The virus spreads so aggressively that enough flu patients for an entire six-month period are being seen in emergency rooms in just a few days.
Seeking Care During the COVID-19 Crisis
So what do you do when you get hurt in a wreck? You should still consider going to the ER immediately after your accident. Receiving speedy medical care is absolutely critical — not only for your future health outcome but also because a prompt diagnosis is needed to establish fault for the injury.
With that said, if you are not in need of immediate medical evacuation, you may wish to coordinate your visit with your local care provider. Call ahead, tell them about your emergency, and request detailed instructions on how to best facilitate your visit. Your provider may request that you visit at a particular time, or they may recommend an alternative care facility.
If you have questions about how to address your accident injuries, getting a comprehensive diagnosis, or how to handle a possible bodily injury claim after your recent Georgia wreck, do not hesitate to contact your local hospital or us. We can provide you with legal guidance and referrals to trusted care providers during a free, no-obligation consultation.
Call Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. today to schedule your free case review when you dial 770.822.0900 or contact us online today.
What Does It Mean to Seek the Minimal Level of Care Possible?
Speaking on April 2nd during a press conference that would announce the statewide shelter in place order, Brian Kemp warned that, “Georgia will reach peak capacity on April 23 – that’s three weeks from today.”
This scenario poses a huge problem: COVID-19 cases aren’t the only medical emergency in town. If someone gets hurt in a car accident or some other incident, they may need to wait for medical care. They may also not get 100% of the supplies, staff, and medical attention they need.
If you are hurt in a car accident, receiving care as soon as possible may be critical. Even if you do not feel hurt, you may have an underlying condition that could worsen in the next 48 – 72 hours.
At the same time, recognize that going to an ER right now means two things: you risk exposure to COVID-19, and you end up using hospital resources that are already spread quite thin.
Accordingly, you will want to speak with an administrator at your local care facility for guidance on how to best seek emergency healthcare. You can describe your current condition, the symptoms you are feeling, and your general impression of how urgent your injuries are. Coordinating staff may recommend you visit immediately, but they may also recommend visiting during a non-peak time or going to an alternative care provider in your area.
If you think your injuries are undoubtedly minor — meaning they could not possible cause you to be admitted to the hospital — you may wish to lower your risk and conserve your provider’s resources by seeking alternative, lower-level care. Urgent care clinics and primary care providers, for instance, can perform most needed diagnostics for individuals without severe trauma or a serious, life-threatening condition.
However, you should always err on the side of caution, assuming your health condition could be worse than it is. There are also situations where you should always seek emergency care. Here are some criteria that can constitute an obvious medical emergency requiring immediate attention:
- Major fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Serious head trauma
- Significant blood loss
- Severe burns, cuts, or impalements that risk infection
- Any incapacitating injuries
Trust Your Community Healthcare Professionals If You Think You Need Hospitalization
If you are seriously hurt after your wreck and there are witnesses, there’s a good chance an ambulance will be on the way. If someone has called an ambulance, the paramedics will examine you and recommend transport if they think you have serious injuries.
Do not decline medical care if it is recommended by EMS. Your seemingly moderate injury could turn out to have major complications.
In the event that you do not feel EMS services are needed, you should still call to speak with someone in charge of triage at your nearest ER. They should handle your call in the same way that they would for someone worrying about whether or not to come in with flu-like symptoms. They will help you decide where to go next, and what steps you can take to monitor your own condition.
Alternatives to the ER
Even if you do not think you need to go to the ER after your wreck, you should still seek medical care within 48 hours of your accident. You want to treat any possible conditions early to avoid serious complications. A traumatic brain injury, for example, can lead to worsening symptoms if ignored.
You also need a diagnosis by a medical professional in order to file an injury claim after your accident. Insurance companies may be more likely to deny coverage or reject your claim if you do not receive an early, comprehensive diagnosis.
Luckily, our modern medical system has options. You can go to an urgent care clinic or visit your primary care physician instead. An outpatient clinic can provide many services that a car accident victim might receive in the ER, including X rays and a comprehensive exam for any trauma.
If your symptoms are mild, or you are recovering after your initial emergency visit, you can request a telemedicine visit using videoconferencing software rather than attending an in-person appointment.
If you are unsure about these available options, or you are extremely worried that your condition might be serious, it’s always safest to err on the side of caution and go to the ER.
The Importance of Preventative Care
One thing you can do to reduce the risk that you will need hospitalization for your post-accident condition is to diligently manage your own care. This is especially important if you have a pre-existing chronic condition, like diabetes or hypertension. The last thing you want is for an ongoing condition to be complicated by a recent injury, increasing the risk of a medical emergency.
After you have received initial treatment for your accident injuries, follow all doctor’s orders to the letter. This includes orders regarding existing diagnoses as well as orders regarding care for your recent injury. You can arrange a telemedicine appointment to track your progress, keep your prognosis updated, and hopefully avoid a situation where you need to be rushed to the hospital and admitted.
Get Advice from an Experienced Duluth Car Accident Attorney
If you’re worried about your medical condition, especially after a car accident, don’t second-guess yourself. Do everything you can to get the care you need. Acquiring COVID-19 during hospitalization is a risk, but so is ignoring a medical emergency.
We know these are trying times, but our medical professionals and public officials are rising to the challenge. Their guidance will help us continue to make the best decisions as the situation evolves.
Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. can provide legal counsel and assistance with filing your claim after your car accident injury. You can talk to us for free with no obligation to work with us afterward during your initial case review.
Schedule your free case evaluation when you call 770.822.0900 or contact us online today.