The contribution of urgent care facilities to the health care industry is widely acknowledged, not only by those within the industry, but the beneficiaries of such services as well. Recently, however, there has been a call for increased regulations for such facilities, given that their numbers have been rising dramatically all over the country. Exponentially, the number of malpractice lawsuits or complaints against such institutions have also been increasing.
One of the most recent cases is that of George Trovato, who went to an urgent care facility in Wading Rivers for joint pains. The physician who attended to him recommended exercise. A few weeks later, Trovato suffered a heart attack and died.
As it turned out, Trovato was not attended to by a doctor, but by a physician assistant. Physician assistants generally have fewer schooling years and clinical training than doctors; and are required to practice only under the supervision of a doctor. In Trovato’s case, no doctor was present when he was treated at the urgent care center. Trovato’s case has been the rallying point of advocates seeking better regulations for health care clinics.
Misdiagnosis is the most common malpractice complaint against urgent care centers, just as it is against primary care facilities. Despite this, misdiagnosis is often very difficult to prove in Court, especially since doctors and medical centers are often represented by topnotch defense lawyers. This makes it important for patients in New York and/or their families to seek the assistance of seasoned Manhattan medical malpractice lawyers who are just as knowledgeable about such cases, and will make sure their clients’ rights are protected and upheld.
Experts say the chances of a misdiagnosis is even more pronounced in urgent care facilities for a number of reasons. First of all, there is the concern that non-doctors may be attending to patients without the required supervision of a licensed physician.
Second, the limited amount of time for interaction between a patient and an urgent care doctor makes it difficult for the doctor to re-evaluate patients, or provide continuous care. Additionally, some experts point to urgent care centers’ lack of compliance to risk factor analysis, which could eliminate the negatives, and point to a more correct diagnosis.
Given the current lack of regulations surrounding urgent care facilities, patients should exercise caution and ask the right questions when in such a center. Likewise, they should not hesitate to seek the help of an experienced Manhattan medical practice attorney, like one from The Law Offices of Joseph Lichtenstein, if they have reason to suspect they did not get the appropriate medical care from an urgent care provider.
(Source: I-Team: Urgent Care Centers Are Booming, But Some Say Regulatory Standards Aren’t Keeping Up, NBC New York, November 19, 2014)