Choosing Between Emergency Room or Urgent Care

After a car accident, you need to get immediate medical treatment and attention for any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. Medical treatment not only helps ensure that you can make a full recovery from your injuries, having a doctor’s statement about the accident and your injuries can make it easier for you to pursue compensation through an injury claim.

In general, you will have two options for medical care after a car accident: visiting an emergency room, or heading to an urgent care center. Emergency rooms, in general, provide immediate care for emergency situations, including severe injuries. However, an urgent care clinic can help you pursue medical evaluation and treatment when you have minor injuries or do not know if you sustained severe injuries in the accident.

Sometimes, an ambulance arriving at the scene will make the decision for you: the EMTs on the ambulance may insist that you receive care in the emergency room or recommend care based on your specific symptoms. In other cases, however, you may need to make your own decisions about where you should go to seek care after an accident. How should you decide whether you should head to the emergency room or an urgent care center? An evaluation of your symptoms can make it easier. 

1. If you have life-threatening injuries, always head straight for an emergency room.

Ideally, you should use an ambulance to get to the emergency room as soon as possible after an accident that results in life-threatening injuries. Life-threatening symptoms may include things like:

  • Severe or uncontrollable bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Symptoms of a head injury, including confusion or disorientation
  • Any signs of internal bleeding, including vomiting blood
  • Trouble breathing due to your injuries

When you have life-threatening injuries, you may need immediate treatment in an emergency room to help preserve your life or your quality of life. Do not delay treatment. If possible, proceed to an emergency room as soon as possible. 

2. If you have permanently disabling injuries, or signs of permanently disabling injuries, you should go to the emergency room.

The sooner you receive treatment for injuries that could cause permanent disability, the greater the likelihood that you will make as full a recovery from those injuries as possible. In general, you should head to the emergency room after an Atlanta car accident if you have signs of injuries that might cause that permanent or long-term disability, including:

  • Inability to move, or decreased movement, which could indicate a spinal injury
  • Signs of traumatic head injury, including confusion, disorientation, or dizziness
  • Multiple broken bones or severe broken bones, including compound fractures
  • Facial lacerations

In many cases, severe, potentially disabling injuries will require immediate attention and intervention, including potential surgical treatment. By heading straight to the emergency room, you increase the odds that you will get the care you need. 

3. If you think you sustained only minor injuries, an urgent care center can check you over.

If you discover after the accident that you have relatively minor injuries, including things like broken bones or lacerations, you may want to head to an urgent care center to get checked out. An urgent care center can provide the basic evaluation and early treatment you may need for those immediate injuries. Later, you may need to see a specialist for further evaluation. However, in the immediate aftermath of the accident, an urgent care center may offer adequate medical care.

4. If you do not think you suffered any injuries in the accident, you may still want to have a doctor at an urgent care center check you out.

In many cases, accident victims will think that they did not sustain any injury at all in an accident, only to later discover that they have severe symptoms related to the accident. Any time you have a car accident that involves significant property damage, you should pursue medical evaluation to make sure that you did not suffer injuries. 

However, for some people, a visit to the emergency room may seem incredibly expensive, especially if they think they did not suffer injury. An urgent care center can provide a full evaluation of the injuries you may have sustained and give you a better idea of whether you might need further medical treatment. By seeking care at an urgent care center, you rule out further injury and decrease the odds that you will inadvertently miss treating severe conditions or injuries.

5. Location may matter when it comes to choosing a care provider after an Atlanta car accident.

In some cases, you may want to visit an urgent care center because of proximity to the accident scene. You may, for example, need help getting bleeding stopped after a car accident. In that case, an urgent care center may have the capacity to provide some medical attention and care, and can transfer you to an emergency room if needed for further care. 

6. If you get into a car accident while pregnant, you may need to go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

During pregnancy, you may worry more about the impact to the fetus than any impact to your personal health. However, often, evaluating fetal health will require the resources on hand in an emergency room, not necessarily the ones you can get at an urgent care center. Furthermore, if you do require any interventions to help with fetal health after an accident, you will find that a hospital has access to more tools and often can better ensure that you get the full range of care you need. Always connect with your doctor to discuss any symptoms you might have during pregnancy, especially after an accident. 

Get Legal Help After a Car Accident

If you suffered injuries in a car accident in Atlanta, you need an Atlanta car accident lawyer to help you get the compensation you may deserve for those injuries. Contact Cambre & Associates as soon after the accident as possible to learn more about how we can help.