After an accident, you need the appropriate medical care to help you recover. What type of doctor you should see first depends on the severity and nature of your injuries, as well as the type of accident you have been involved in.
Keep in mind that a car accident can cause hidden injuries, so always see a doctor even if you don’t think you’re hurt after a collision. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers are here to help you get compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Seeing Your Primary Care Doctor After an Accident
After any accident resulting in injury, your primary care physician should be one of the first doctors you consult. They can properly assess your injuries, determine if any diagnostic tests are needed, and refer you to specialists if required.
Within 24 to 48 hours of an accident, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. Be prepared to describe details of the accident and resulting injuries. Bring any medical records, test results, or emergency care instructions from the accident scene or hospital.
Your primary care doctor can provide general medical care and treat minor injuries such as sprains, bruises, and even whiplash. They may also order:
- Diagnostic tests: Blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to check for internal injuries.
- Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or other drugs depending on your symptoms.
- Therapy or rehabilitation: If injuries require physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other rehabilitation, your doctor can provide referrals to therapists and help coordinate a treatment plan.
- Follow-up care: Your doctor will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress, check test results, and adjust treatment plans accordingly. Recovery from accident injuries can take weeks or months, and proper record-keeping is of utmost importance.
Seeking prompt medical care and following your doctor’s recommendations diligently after an accident is vital to proper diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Your primary care doctor will also provide records and evidence of your injuries, which will be used in any subsequent compensation claims.
Immediate Treatment After a Car Accident
You have two options for immediate treatment: visiting an emergency room or an urgent care center.
For a medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest ER immediately. For less serious accidents or ailments needing prompt attention, an urgent care center can provide quality treatment at a lower cost.
The Emergency Room (ER)
The emergency room (ER) should be your first choice if you experience trauma or symptoms that threaten life or limb. Some examples include:
- Severe pain, swelling or bleeding
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- A head, neck, or back injury.
ER doctors are trained in emergency medicine and have access to advanced equipment for diagnosis and treatment. They can also admit patients to the hospital if needed.
Urgent Care Centers
For non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses requiring same-day treatment, an urgent care center may be appropriate. Consider visiting an urgent care facility for:
- Minor fractures (simple breaks)
- Cuts requiring stitches
Urgent care doctors can perform X-rays, lab tests, and minor procedures – all important evidence that will be used in any subsequent claims or cases. Care is often faster and more affordable than an ER visit. However, urgent care centers have limited capabilities for treating severe or complex medical issues.
Injuries Requiring Specialist Treatment
Regardless of whether your initial examination took place in an emergency room, a doctor’s office, or an urgent care center, it’s crucial to follow up with any specialists you’ve been referred to. After an accident, you may need to consult with various specialists, including orthopedists or neurologists.
Orthopedic doctors, also known as orthopedic surgeons, specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. They are trained to care for tendons, nerves, joints, bones, and ligaments. If you have been injured in an accident, visiting an orthopedic doctor is likely in order.
Neurologists specialize in treating injuries to the brain and nervous system3. Even if you don’t experience any symptoms after an accident, a neurologist can check your head for damage to your neurological system and injuries that can have long-lasting consequences.
Car accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries, leading to symptoms such as alteration of consciousness, blurred vision, dizziness, and balance problems. A neurologist can detect brain injuries and help prevent long-term complications.