In the past, you may have had just two choices for health care – your local doctor and the hospital. Today, health care is more complex. All sorts of health care facilities offer medical care – each with its own level of care. A lot of Americans have a hard time distinguishing the levels of care and where to go for their injuries or illnesses. Sadly, health care facilities do not always help the situation. Many providers will accept patients or render care in situations where they ought to refer the patient to a higher level of treatment. Also, the confusion often leads people to go to the wrong type of facility for their needs.
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we help individuals and families throughout Indiana who have been hurt by medical malpractice. If you suspect a serious medical error, call us today to schedule a private and free case evaluation to discuss your situation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Levels of Care in Indiana Hospitals and Urgent Care Facilities
When you are sick or injured, you want to get the right kind of care for your situation. In Indiana, your options for medical care include:
- Emergency room at a local hospital – Most emergency rooms are equipped to handle a wide range of emergency ailments such as auto accident injuries, broken bones, heart attacks and common illnesses. But they may not be equipped to handle extreme and severe traumas. For this, a patient should be taken to a trauma center.
- Urgent care centers – Urgent care clinics are a cross between a physician’s office and a small-scale hospital. Some urgent care centers have room for patients to be kept for observation or even to be admitted overnight. Others may not. They are designed, for the most part, to allow people access to primary care services outside of times when a doctor’s office is open such as late nights and weekends.
- Trauma centers – A trauma center is a specialized hospital that has higher-level providers who are specially trained to deal with catastrophic injuries. These facilities often have helicopter pads and receive patients from the scene of major accidents and by transfer from regular nearby emergency departments. But not all trauma centers are the same. These facilities have a wide range of care levels.
- Outpatient surgical centers – In recent years, private surgical centers have popped up around the country, allowing surgeons to perform complex procedures closer to where patients live. These facilities are designed to handle surgeries that do not require hospitalization or in-patient recovery. Procedures include everything from knee and hip replacements to reconstructive procedures.
- Private physicians’ offices – These are your typical primary care physicians and specialists who maintain office environments and are not equipped to perform complex surgical procedures.
- Micro-hospitals – The retail model of a mini-emergency room is becoming more popular in Indiana. The facilities have the capacity for emergency care and overnight stays. They are simply smaller than traditional hospitals, and they generally lack many of the specialty departments of a hospital.
- Specialty hospitals – Around Indiana, you will find hospitals devoted to children, seniors and specific types of medical conditions. These are full-service hospitals, but they focus on treating a limited segment of patients.
- Retail walk-in clinics – These can be open 24/7. Many are operated by national pharmacy chains. They are generally not staffed by physicians. Instead, patients can be seen for minor illnesses and injuries, but they will almost always be seen by an advanced practice nurse or physician’s assistant rather than a licensed physician.
Depending on the type of facility and provider you see, some of these terms may be used interchangeably. The level of medical expertise will vary widely from facility to facility, so it is important to choose wisely.
Levels of Trauma Centers
In particular, when it comes to trauma center levels, Indiana emergency rooms can be further divided into the following levels:
- Level 5 – At this level, a patient receives basic life support to stabilize conditions for transfer to a higher-level facility. These centers are usually located in rural, smaller communities that lack the need or resources for a larger or more well-equipped facility.
- Level 4 – In these emergency departments, patients may receive advanced life support to stabilize their injuries long enough to transfer them to a higher-level trauma center, if necessary.
- Level 3 – At this level of care, you begin to see the capacity for intensive care and critical care. These ERs are usually located in larger regional hospitals that will have the ability to admit a patient and perform resuscitation and ongoing emergency care for injuries.
- Level 2 – At this level, care is more comprehensive and includes a wider range of diagnostic and treatment options. These trauma centers are more likely to be able to provide extended care for severe and life-threatening injuries. Indiana has just six Level 2 trauma centers, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
- Level 1 – These ERs provide the highest level of trauma care. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, only four verified Level 1 trauma centers are in the state.
Fighting for the Rights of Patients and Families in Indiana
With more than 15 years of legal experience, the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson tirelessly pursues justice for victims of medical malpractice and their families in Indiana. Pursuing compensation after a medical error in Indiana is a difficult task and requires the assistance of an attorney with extensive experience in this area of the law.
If you have suffered serious injury because of a negligent health care provider or facility, or if you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you and your family may be eligible to recover compensation for the harm you have suffered. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We will provide a comprehensive review of your case and discuss the legal options that may be available to you.