Hospital emergency rooms are stretched to the limits, which can lead to medical mistakes.
A 1999 study showed that more than half of all preventable hospital error claims result from mistakes in the emergency room (ER). The main problem is chaos. Hospital emergency rooms are not properly funded and they are treating more patients with fewer resources. Part of the problem is more Americans without health insurance use emergency rooms for primary care and the treatment of chronic illnesses. Because over 46 million Americans do not have any health insurance, they go to the emergency room for treatment of problems which are controlable and preventable. This overburdens the system.
The problem is that if you have a real emergency like an acute injury from an automobile accident, the ER may be too busy to deal with you. Unless you have an open, bleeding wound, you may be better off going to see an urgent care doctor, or even your primary care doctor, if you have one. I have seen many cases where the ER doctors treat an accident victim as if they are a bother. You may be forced to sit for a long period of time, if all you have is back pain.
At the scene of a car wreck make sure to tell the police officer if you are having any pain or even discomfort. Even if you decide not to take an ambulance to the hospital, please make sure that the officer knows that you are shaken up and may need medical assistance. The police report has a section indicating whether you tell the officer that you are hurt or not. Many times a person who is seriously injured is noted by the officer as not being hurt because they decline ambulance services. If you are in any doubt, it is better to go to the emergency room in an ambulance to make sure that you get the care that you need.
In the emergency room, make sure to tell the triage nurse everything about your situtation. Insurance companies will made a big deal of any symptom that you do not indicate to the emergency room staff. For example, if your back and neck hurt, make sure to tell them about both, not just the one that is hurting more. If at all possible have an advocate with you who can help you to get the care you need. The ideal advocate is someone who has composure and can firmly, but politely, make sure that you get the treatment that you need. If you do not get care in a reasonable period of time, you or your advocate needs to speak up to make sure that the staff of the hospital knows that you are still there waiting to be seen.
In an automobile crash, if you do not get treatment at the ER, then you still need to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you fail to see a doctor within a number of days, the insurance company will make a big deal of this. They will say you must not have been so hurt if you did not go and get any medical care in the first day or so. The advantage of going and getting seen right away is so that you will get the medical care that you need and document what was wrong with you right away. If you have any concerns about what kind of health care provider to use, an attorney can help guide those decisions. Attorneys like our firm do not charge any legal fee unless we get a result for you. Accordingly, there is no downside to contacting an attorney soon after an automobile wreck to make sure that your medical care is being properly managed.