A Guide From Our Attorneys
In this time of extreme anxiety, obtaining ordinary medical care is a risk that many people wish to avoid. Annual checkups, follow-up appointments, and screenings are going by the wayside because patients across the U.S. are afraid of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Providers of dental care, physical therapy, and even newborn health checks are canceling and limiting routine medical procedures in an effort to keep themselves and their patients safe and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So, what does an injured person do when they need emergency medical treatment or a medical evaluation after someone else’s negligence causes their trauma?
Our lawyers discuss your options below:
A Note About Telehealth
Today, certain medical providers offer intake and screening services over the phone or connect with patients over the internet via computers and smartphones. This process is known as telehealth or telemedicine.
For those in high-risk categories, telehealth may be a valid option, but when it comes to legal documentation, nothing really takes the place of hands-on treatment.
To protect your health and your rights simultaneously, simply follow our advice:
1. When the incident occurs, you may have to make quick medical decisions. If your accident causes a medical emergency, for example, and you require urgent medical assistance, you must go to the hospital. Most hospitals have precautions in place for the prevention of COVID-19.
2. Make sure to tell your doctor about all your injuries from the beginning and ask for a record of your appointment. Although you may be in shock from the event that caused the injury, try to let the providers know, from head to toe, what is bothering you.
3. After you are discharged, make sure you let your medical provider know about any new symptoms that arise. Sometimes, adrenaline and stress mask symptoms and they emerge later.
4. When you need treatment or rehabilitative care, ask the facility you are visiting what precautions they take. Do not visit a facility if you feel unsafe.
5. If you need physical therapy and cannot attend, see if you can do some of the exercises at home or follow an instructional video online. Your provider may be closed, or you may be concerned about social distancing, but there are countless ways to start retraining your body, and your physical therapist should help you find them.
6. If your provider is just not seeing any patients for a while, make sure you call them and tell them how you are doing. They need to make a record of how you are progressing, refer you to specialists if necessary, and prescribe new medications as may be appropriate.
7. If the provider who is treating you is unavailable by phone, then send a short email or note to their office every few weeks and keep a copy for your own records.
8. When you feel safe seeing your doctor in person, let them know how you are doing. Don’t hold back, as the records will reflect everything you tell the provider. If you do not tell them about the aches and pains you had all week, they will not know about them and cannot include them in your record.
9. Save your empty medicine bottles. This can be a useful visual technique in court because it allows you to show the jury the amount of medicine you had to take to make the pain go away.
10. Be prepared to evaluate your health on a 10-point scale. Providers want to know how you are feeling on a scale of 1-10. They will ask you questions like:
- How bad is your pain?
- How does this affect your activities of daily living?
When you answer, you need to be honest. You can also take some time to think about the questions before going in for your appointment. Too many times people are surprised by these questions and answer in a way that does not represent their injuries properly.
After a traumatic event, your main goal should be getting better. You will have to make tough decisions about your medical care, but you still need to take advantage of whatever treatment you choose.
Keep yourself safe, but make sure to be consistent and conscientious. Know that anything you say to a medical provider can be brought into court. If you are honest with your doctor, your medical records will paint a clear picture of what you have gone through, and insurance companies will respond appropriately.
For help presenting your case, call Gottesman & Hollis, P.A. at (603) 506-4600 today or contact us online for a consultation by phone, video chat, or email.