Emergency Rooms, Urgent Care Centers, and Medical Malpractice | Scott Goodwin Law

Emergency Rooms, Urgent Care Centers, and Medical Malpractice

by / Monday, 25 November 2019 / Published in Medical Malpractice
Red emergency sign on side of building

From time to time, everyone experiences health issues that just can’t wait for a scheduled doctor’s appointment. Even if it isn’t an actual emergency, it might still be a problem that can’t be ignored until your doctor’s usual business hours. Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics provide vital services to patients, but it’s also important to be aware that these types of medical centers still come with a risk of medical malpractice.

In an emergency room setting, doctors and other medical professionals have to make important decisions regarding patient care without the luxury of time. When lives are at stake, there may not be time for a doctor to thoroughly consider every option before beginning treatment the way doctors in other types of settings would. There’s also the fact that emergency room doctors very often don’t have prior doctor-patient relationships with the people they treat and may not have a full picture of a patient’s medical history the way a specialist or primary care provider would.

Even before a patient can be seen in an emergency room, they need to go through triage to have their condition evaluated, and it’s very common for patients to be evaluated incorrectly, leading to delayed treatment.

But what about urgent care centers? Even though they aren’t emergency centers, urgent care centers still often focus on getting people in and out as quickly as possible. It’s also important to note that, when you go to an urgent care center, you might not even see an actual doctor. Instead, you may be seen by nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants who are limited in the care they can provide.

Between the focus on speed and the limited capabilities of urgent care centers, there’s a high chance that mistakes will be made with patient care. Patients may be treated by someone who has little-to-no experience with the area of medicine that applies to their case. According to one report, misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are common problems at urgent care centers, with conditions like pneumonia, acute renal failure, urinary tract infections, cancer, and pneumonia being some of the most common types of missed diagnoses involved in urgent care malpractice claims. There have also been cases of urgent care centers failing to refer patients to emergency rooms when appropriate. They also may be unable to provide all the tests that would help them reach a correct diagnosis.

A key factor in any type of medical malpractice case is the question, “Would a competent doctor working under similar circumstances have made the same decision?” Because of the high-pressure nature of emergency rooms, this standard may be different from what a specialist or primary care provider would be. Doctors and nurses working in emergency rooms are not exempt from negligence. But because of the different standard of care involved, it’s extremely important to get the help of a medical malpractice lawyer if you experience a medical error in an emergency room. It’s also vital for the medical professionals working at urgent care centers to do everything possible to act in the best interest of their patients, without overstepping any professional limitations.

Regardless of where a medical error occurs, one of the best things you can do is contact a medical malpractice lawyer. Medical malpractice cases can be very complex and doctors and hospitals have insurance companies to protect them. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re not afraid to  take on big organizations. We’ve helped many people in your situation and would be happy to help with your case. Contact us today to get started.