What is Considered an Acute Symptom as it Pertains to an Emergency Medical Condition Standard in the New Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Law?

Many policy holders, medical practitioners, chiropractors, and medical institutions are concerned about the new standards imposed on PIP in Florida. We have written a previous blog on the matter, but one blog is not sufficient to fully explore the issue. Thus, our goal here is to expand our analysis as it pertains to the definition of an emergency medical condition.

The new PIP standard defines emergency medical condition as, “acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following: (a) Serious Jeopardy to the patient health.(b) Serious impairment to bodily functions.(c) Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.” It would seem that the key factor in determining whether an emergency medical condition exists is the detection of acute symptoms. Without finding of acute symptoms an emergency medical condition is unlikely.

Fortunately, there are cases that provide some guidance as to the definition of an acute symptoms. For example one court provides, “[a]n acute symptom is a symptom ‘characterized by sharpness or severity…having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course…[as] opposed to chronic.’ Moreover, as a verb, ‘manifest’ means ‘to show plainly.’ …[T]he acute indications of injury or illness must coincide in time with the emergency medical condition.” Grennery Rehabilitation Group, Inc. v. Hammon, 150 F.3d 226 (2nd Circuite, 1998).

As car accident attorneys in Miami we understand that back injuries are common as a result of vehicular impacts. Therefore, back injuries will result as a good example to in application of the acute symptom analysis. The following are common in relation to acute spinal cord injuries:

• Muscle Weakness
• Loss of voluntary muscle movement in the chest, arms, or legs,
• Breathing problems
• Loss of feeling in the chest, arms, or legs
• Loss of bowel and bladder function

Thus, if a patient complains of back pain and is combined with any of the symptoms above, then the most likely outcome is that the emergency medical condition standard would be met. For the most part, medical practitioners agree that emergency medical attention is needed if there is an inkling of a spinal cord injury. Medical practitioners should then be able to follow up their initial determination of an emergency medical condition with tests such as x-rays and MRI’s. These should be covered under the new PIP standard under the emergency medical condition standard and perhaps trigger $10,000 for continuing care and rehabilitation. A similar analysis should apply to other types of injuries.

As we explained on previous blogs, much remains to be seen as it relates the new PIP standards. As South Florida PIP attorneys we understand the difficulties and uncertainty this has caused health care providers. There is no doubt that many businesses and jobs will be affected by these changes.

Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Protection attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have pertaining to the new pip standards passed in 2012. We can be reached at 305.764.9907 or 1.888.413.8353.