Rethinking emergency care after a car accident (and a simple way to stay safe on a bike) | Patrick Malone & Associates PC | DC Damages Lawyers


With US road death toll hits highest level in 20 yearsanyone traveling in any way on the country’s roads should be as advised as possible to stay safe, including thinking twice about where to go for medical examinations and treatment after any apparently minor vehicle accident and by give up cycling while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol.

In recent times, patients have found urgent care centers to be a convenient alternative to large hospital emergency rooms for obtaining quick and less expensive care for less complicated but still relatively serious illnesses and injuries. (including for sports accidents, cuts and broken bones). ). Why not turn to such facilities after a vehicle accident, or be rushed to a crowded and expensive hospital emergency room for major treatment? As NPR reported, these patients with lesser medical requirements were always surprised that urgent care centers knocked them down and sent them to nearby emergency rooms.

It happened to a young Georgian driver named Frankie Cook, who, along with her father, was also shocked by the $17,000 cost of emergency care for scans and exams to determine if she had suffered a concussion in a wreckage that seemed to have left her unseen. injuries and headaches. As NPR explained:

“Frankie, then a high school student, was concerned that she had a concussion that could affect her performance on an upcoming advanced level exam, so she and her father decided to stop by an urgent care center near her home. them to have it examined. They did not go past the reception. “We do not take liability insurance” [her dad] Russell says the receptionist at Atrium Health Floyd Emergency Care Rome [Ga.] told her, even though he wasn’t sure what she meant. “She told me, like, three times.” The problem didn’t seem to be that the clinic lacked the medical expertise to assess Frankie, and the family had good health insurance. But, when injuries are the result of accidents, another insurer, such as auto or home, may be primarily responsible for medical expenses. Health insurance, if it’s on the hook at all, can kick in after the other insurer has paid. The cooks appeared to be facing a reimbursement policy often used by urgent care centers to avoid waiting for car insurance settlement payments. Russell was told to take Frankie to the ER, which by law must see all patients, regardless of those issues. The closest to Atrium Health Floyd Medical Centerwas about a mile down the road and was in the same hospital system as the urgent care center.

The news article further explained:

“Lou Ellen Horwitz, CEO of the Urgent Care Association, says it’s fairly common policy for urgent care centers not to treat injuries resulting from even minor car accidents.” Generally, they don’t deal with car accident victims, regardless of the extent of their injuries, because that’s going to go through that auto insurance claims process before the provider gets paid,” says – She Horwitz says urgent care centers — even those in large health systems — often operate on thin margins and can’t wait months and months for an auto insurance company to pay She says that “unfortunately” people tend to learn about these policies when they show up while waiting for care.

NPR quoted experts as saying that stand-alone urgent care centers are often located near emergency rooms, as many are owned by the same hospital. This reduces the potential risk to patients involved in a vehicle accident who can be quickly referred to the larger and more expensive facility. ERs, as a reminder, provide some of the most expensive hospital medical services, as they have to treat patients and have to keep talented staff and expensive resources on hand 24/7 for a wide range of of conditions. That’s not true with urgent care centers, NPR noted, citing Dr Ateev Mehrotraprofessor of health policy at Harvard Medical School:

“Mehrotra… says urgent care centers are not bound by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a federal law known as EMTALA which forces hospitals to stabilize patients regardless of their ability to pay.

NPR reported that patients with an accident may face further aggravation by going to an urgent care center and then being sent to the emergency room, as both facilities can charge for them. This will take time to sort out, as Frankie Cook and his father discovered. By the way, they did what savvy consumers should, scrutinize their big emergency bill and dispute it with the hospital and their insurance company. They ended up paying not $17,000 but $1,042 — more affordable but still far more than the $200 Frankie’s father had hoped would be charged for a quick checkup at emergency care.

The Stoner bike can be very risky

Here’s a sensible way to avoid urgent care and emergencies: Don’t ride a bike when you’re stoned.

Alas, it’s an all too common problem, according to a study recently published in a medical journal and reported by the HealthDay news servicewho wrote :

‘Between 2019 and 2020 alone, more than 11,000 people were treated in US emergency rooms for injuries sustained while riding their bicycles while using methamphetamine, marijuana or opioids,’ People affected by these injuries probably have substance use disorder, may be more likely to be homeless. and may not have access to other types of transportation,” explained lead researcher Bart Hammig, a professor of public health at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “This is a population that is often overlooked and ignored when it comes to serious injuries related to bicycle accidents.'”

He and his colleagues said their work emphasizes the importance for emergencies to also have social service referral capabilities, so injured riders can also get appropriate help for substance abuse issues. . Experts said their study also underscores that this country needs more and better transportation options to keep poor, intoxicated people off bikes and on roads where their injuries can be serious:

“Hammig and his University of Arkansas colleague Robert Davis, assistant professor of public health, found that cyclists who crashed while intoxicated often had more serious injuries than those who did not drink. drug. Most of the injured were men (86%), according to the study. Of these, 22% had fractures; 19% internal organs injured; and almost 33% had to be hospitalized… Some [wrecks] likely resulted in deaths, but because the data came from emergency room records, researchers were unable to report deaths. The most common drugs found were methamphetamine (36%); marijuana (32%); and opioids (19%). Nearly a quarter of injured bikers had also been drinking alcohol, the study found.

Not good. In my practice, my colleagues and I not only see harms experienced by patients when seeking medical servicesbut also the damage inflicted on pedestrians, cyclists and drivers by wrecks of motorcycles, vehicles and trucks. The country had made significant progress in reducing road accidents, but positive trends have reversed in recent years and derailed during the pandemic.

We have an individual responsibility to right this wrong. We can ensure that we are doing our part to ensure that we are not driving while distracted – especially when texting or using electronic devices – drunk, high (with recreational or prescription drugs) or otherwise impaired, especially drowsiness. We can return to the fundamental idea of ​​reciprocal altruism by restoring courtesy, consideration and concern for others. This means that we take to heart the idea that we and others will not engage in reckless and aggressive driving – flouting the laws of common sense, speeding and ignoring stop signs and others.

Take care when driving and slow down. Buckle up. If you are unlucky enough to be involved in a serious car accident, you and your loved ones may not only want to call your insurer early, but also experienced and expert lawyers to sort out any significant legal issues that may arise. Your auto agent represents the insurer, remember, and these people, as kind and conscientious as they may seem, may not be trained to deal with complex legal and medical issues.

We have a lot of work to do to keep ourselves and our roads as safe as possible.


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