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Can doctors refuse to provide care after a car accident?

In a sense, the answer here is “no and yes.” There are scenarios where, from an ethical standpoint, a doctor’s refusal to treat you would jeopardize their license. There are scenarios where refusing treatment is the proper choice. It all comes down to context.

Why would a doctor refuse treatment?

Primarily, there are two different medical systems at work in car accident treatment. A hospital must treat anyone in an emergency to stabilize them. This may include:

  • Stitching wounds
  • Setting bones
  • Treating infections
  • Performing surgery

But that treatment will only apply immediately after the accident. Once those stabilization measures are in place, the hospital’s duty to you ends.

At that point, you may go to a private practice for follow-up, perhaps your primary care physician (PCP). A doctor at a private practice is under no obligation to treat patients or injuries they don’t want to. When it comes to a car accident, the reasons your primary care physician would refuse to treat you may include:

  • The difficult paperwork
  • The possibility of providing testimony
  • Long term injury treatment is not their specialty

However, some doctors specifically take car crash cases. These doctors are familiar with the common hurdles that come with treating someone in your situation. They understand what to expect, and they can offer strong medical advice to you as you move forward.

Finding the right doctor

You do not have to go “shopping” for a doctor. Often, if your primary care physician refuses to treat you, they will provide you with a referral for a doctor who will. Furthermore, you may also consider speaking with your attorney. A skilled personal injury attorney may have a long history with doctors who help their clients and can offer you a strong recommendation.

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