In an effort to “flatten the curve” through social distancing, and to preserve medical resources for those infected with Coronavirus, most health providers are dramatically scaling back in-person medical visits and treatment. Thousands of elective procedures, including diagnostic imaging, have been canceled as a result. So where does that leave individuals, injured in accidents, who are suffering through their injuries while sheltering in place? What about individuals who need medical treatment, but who are reluctant to seek treatment for fear of exposure to the Coronavirus?
If you are injured in an accident, whether it’s a slip fall in a supermarket, a car crash, or dog bite, it remains important to seek immediate medical treatment. Emergency rooms are open and, given the general success of social distancing/isolation in suppressing the pandemic, you will not likely encounter a crush of COVID-19 patients standing in line at the ER. Hospitals have instituted practices and procedures designed to minimize the risk of infection. Emergency medical treatment, or urgent care treatment, is critical immediately following injuries suffered in an accident in order to identify and treat or rule out, significant injuries such as fractures, spine and joint disruption, neurological deficits, lacerations, and burns. Such injuries must be identified and stabilized to avoid further harm. Patients with injuries that threaten life and limb will, of course, be scheduled for appropriate continuing medical treatment. However, injuries that do not put the patient in imminent peril will likely be managed by medical professionals from a distance.
For post-emergency treatment sought for injuries that do not threaten life or limb, there are still a variety of options for receiving continuing medical consultation and care.
- E-mail. E-mail correspondence with your physicians is an excellent way to keep your physician advised of continuing and developing symptoms and to seek his or her advice on what steps you should take. Your physician can recommend treatments you can pursue at home, prescribe medications, and provide reassurance and educational materials.
- Telemedicine. Many of us have now become “pros” at Zoom or WebEx video conference. Even if you are not savvy with computers or other technologies, participating in a video conference with your physician is easy and does not require expensive equipment. Physical therapists can demonstrate exercises by video and then evaluate your movements to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly. Healing lacerations can be evaluated in this way to make sure there is no infection. Video conferences can be particularly useful for addressing psychological injuries from accidents.
- Chiropractic, therapeutic massage, and acupuncture. Some medical practitioners are still providing in-person treatment during the pandemic. It is advisable to check with your physician to make sure that these treatment modalities are not contraindicated for your particular condition before receiving such care.
- Home treatments. Appropriate (physician-guided) utilization of ice, heat, compression, traction, and medications can be valuable in addressing acute and chronic injuries.
- Home exercise program. Under the guidance and supervision of a physician or physical therapist, home exercise programs can be beneficial in relieving symptoms, speeding healing, and preventing aggravations.
Though it is natural to try and avoid unnecessary exposure to others who may be infected with the Coronavirus, this legitimate concern must be balanced against the need to seek out necessary medical treatment. When your symptoms are ongoing, even if you have decided against in-person treatment, it remains important to communicate with your doctor. This allows your doctor to provide you with up to date treatment recommendations. Additionally, insurance companies unfairly put inordinate importance on “gaps” in medical treatment. So, if you have continuing symptoms, but do not routinely advise your physician as to how you are doing, the insurance company evaluating your personal injury claim will “assume” that you have recovered and, as a result, your claim will be evaluated accordingly.
If you have been injured by the negligent conduct of another, and need additional advice and information, please do not hesitate to contact the Demas Law Group. We would be happy to assist you, contact us today for a consultation!