Before our country was hit by the pandemic all those months ago, the only real stress that came with visiting the doctor was taking time off from work. These days, however, people have to decide between checking on their health and running the risk of catching COVID-19. While doctors’ offices and emergency rooms are doing their best to keep their areas sanitized and clean, there is always the risk that a COVID positive person had recently visited, leaving you in a risky position. So, how can people safely seek medical help in this age of COVID-19, especially following a serious accident?
The Age of Virtual Visits
Currently, most doctors are scheduling preliminary virtual visits with their patients before approving them for an in-person visit. These Telehealth video calls allow the doctor to discuss the patient’s symptoms and concerns and determine if an in-person visit is truly necessary or if the doctor already has enough information to make a medical diagnosis and treatment plan. These telehealth meetings can help hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices maximize their efficiency while minimizing the number of resources they use each day. Instead of having to constantly sanitize a room or testing equipment, the doctor can meet with a patient virtually to discuss a diagnosis or renew a prescription.
However, not seeing a doctor in person can put some patients in a tricky position. While you can certainly relay to your doctor your symptoms, your doctor may interpret the reported symptoms incorrectly. For example, symptoms like coughing, a stuffed nose, and body aches could be allergies, the flu, or even minor COVID-19 symptoms. Without tests, there is no sure way to know, and a doctor may decide to wait and see over asking you to come for testing.
While a virtual visit should be the first step to seeing your doctor, if you are worried that the meeting simply didn’t go in-depth enough, do not fear voicing that to your doctor. Your health is incredibly important. While there are some high risks in visiting a doctor’s office right now, there may also be some risks in waiting to see your general practitioner.
COVID and Visiting the Doctor
If you and your doctor do decide that an in-person appointment would be beneficial, then you will still want to protect your health and safety.
Some tips that may be helpful to follow include:
Go at a slow time: Ask the person scheduling your visit what time is the least busy. They may be able to recommend a good time or day of the week that is less likely to put you at risk for coming into contact with other people.
Wear a mask: Most healthcare facilities require that you be masked during the entire appointment unless otherwise specified. Follow this rule. Masks can help you prevent spreading the virus if you have it, and if everyone wears a mask, then the risk of spread will be dramatically reduced.
Sanitize your hands: Keep a small bottle of sanitizer on you during the appointment and use it whenever you touch another person or an object that others may have touched before you, such as clipboards, pens, and doorknobs. Be sure that your sanitizer is at least 70% alcohol. The workers at the doctor’s office will likely also have sanitizer that is up to CDC standards that you can ask to use.
Social distance: This can be difficult to do when visiting the doctor, given that your general practitioner will likely need to touch you in order to perform certain tests. However, do your best to remain at least six feet apart from others. This can help prevent airborne viruses from getting into your system.
Follow all other guidelines: Your doctor’s office may have specific guidelines they want you to follow. Be sure to ask and listen. Then, when it comes time to go to your appointment, make sure you are doing as is requested.
Following a Serious Accident
Making a doctor’s appointment at an odd time of day is one thing, but when you have been severely injured following a serious accident, you may have to be transported to the emergency room. This can be a terrifying prospect for some people, given that many major hospitals now hold a good number of COVID-19 patients. However, when it comes to injuries caused by car accidents, truck collisions, slip-and-falls, and the countless other possible accidents, you need immediate medical attention not just to heal, but also to survive.
Rest assured, that most hospitals are following strict guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to avoid spreading the virus. These rules include masks, both for patients and employees, at all times. Healthcare workers are also required to wear further personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields and gloves, at all times. The rooms, hallways, and equipment are all also constantly cleaned down and disinfected to prevent virus spread via surface contact.
Perhaps most importantly of all, patients who are waiting to be tested for COVID are held in separate waiting rooms. This means that when you are taken to the hospital, it is very unlikely that you will come into direct contact with a COVID-positive person.
That being said, caution is still the correct move. Just because guidelines are being followed doesn’t mean one person may not make a mistake or neglect to follow an important rule. There are many people who currently refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing, and that puts everyone at risk. Still, after facing a serious injury, you should allow yourself to be examined by a medical professional in order to receive proper treatment. Rest assured that the last thing the hospital staff want is to accidentally spread the virus. Receiving proper treatment is of the utmost importance. If you are concerned that you came in contact with COVID-19, request a test to confirm your suspicions and report any symptoms to your doctor.
How Your Medical Records Affect Your Claim
In addition to being important for your health, a proper examination with a medical professional is also important for any personal injury claim you may make. Most insurance companies, even during the current pandemic, require that you have a medical exam and treatment before they will authorize payment of fair compensation for you. With no exam, they will claim that you aren’t actually suffering from serious injuries, and thus should not get a large settlement.
But even with an exam and diagnosis, an insurance company will likely try to minimize your compensation. This type of behavior is exactly why we at NordstrandBlack PC take our work so seriously. If you have been involved in a serious accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you deserve full compensation. We understand why going to the doctor or hospital may be a frightening prospect, but we can work with you and your healthcare provider to make sure that you are as safe as possible, while also getting the exam and treatment you need to maximize the value of your claim. To work with a skilled and thorough Santa Barbara personal injury attorney, call our firm at (805) 962-2022.