If, after an auto accident, you are hurt, in pain, tight, sore, or just think you might be hurt, you should see a health care provider as soon as possible. Insurance companies generally assume that you were not really hurt if you do not seek immediate medical attention. As such, even if you feel the slightest pain or discomfort, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. Even a slow speed accident can have potentially serious injuries. Furthermore, the symptoms may not surface immediately. The following describes four medical care providers you may see after an auto accident.
Emergency Room (ER)
You should contact the police after every auto accident not just to get a police report, but to also receive any necessary medical attention. Depending on the severity of the accident, the police officer may call an ambulance to take you to the emergency department of a hospital. Emergency rooms are the best place for treating severe and life-threatening conditions. They’re open 24 hours, seven days a week, and offer specialized care and diagnostic tests. Due to the comprehensive nature of the ER, there is often a long wait to see a doctor, not to mention service can be quite expensive.
Urgent Care Center
An urgent care center is a walk-in clinic that treats conditions serious enough to require immediate care, but not serious enough to require an ER visit. Patients often use urgent care centers when they are unable to see their primary doctor in a timely fashion – urgent care centers service acute medical problems of low severity. Urgent care centers are usually open after normal business hours, including evenings and weekends, and many offer on-site diagnostic tests. Unlike emergency departments, however, urgent care centers do not service those in need of immediate laboratory testing, advanced imaging, extended stays, and patients requiring immediate surgery. Since urgent care centers are focused on providing patients with simple evaluations and office-based treatments, you will most likely save time and money by going to urgent care instead of an emergency room.
If you are not suffering from a severe or life-threatening injury, you should contact your primary physician to make an emergency appointment after an auto accident. Your primary doctor knows your health history, including any underlying conditions you may have, and will be able to perform a comprehensive physical. Since your primary doctor knows your personal health more than any other doctor, he is often the most informed to recommend treatment and necessary tests, should they be needed. Even if you have to go to the ER or urgent care center after the accident, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician for a check-up.
A specialist is a doctor who focuses on one aspect of a person’s health, like one organ or body part. In addition to medical school, a specialist will have completed a multiple year residency in a specific medical specialty. After completing training, the doctor will take an examination to become medical board-certified in the specialty. As such, a primary doctor will likely refer his patient to a specialist who can offer an expert opinion on the initial diagnosis. If, for example, you are suffering from severe back pain, your primary doctor will probably refer you to an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in back injuries. Similarly, if you are suffering from prolonged and severe headaches, your primary doctor will probably refer you to a neurologist who specializes in ailments of the brain.
Whomever you see, seek treatment as quickly as possible. If you have been in an auto accident, you may use the Claim Calculator to estimate the value of your case.