Posted on 07/24/2021

Can Medical Malpractice Happen at an Urgent Care?

Can Medical Malpractice Happen at an Urgent Care?

Almost everyone has made a trip to an emergency room at some point. Accidents can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of how careful we try to be. 

As more and more people opt to head to their local urgent care facility instead of the ER, you might wonder if urgent care medical malpractice can happen. And what you can do if you experience urgent care medical malpractice. 

Keep reading to learn about what urgent care medical malpractice is and how you can file a lawsuit if you or a loved one have been injured.

What Are Urgent Care Centers?

Treating burns, abrasions, muscle sprains and strains, broken bones, performing medical imaging and other tests, and more, it’s easy to see why urgent care centers are popular alternatives to hospital emergency rooms. 

Their increasing popularity means you probably have several within a short drive of where you live. And that can be great if you find yourself in need of medical attention that offers reduced wait times and one that takes a smaller bite out of your wallet compared to traditional ER care. 

The lack of need for appointments and extended hours of operation are leading some patients to opt for urgent care medical centers as an alternative to primary care physicians or overcrowded emergency departments. 

Urgent care centers are becoming so popular; they’re outpacing traditional emergency departments when it comes to patient use. FAIR Health looked at how often people used emergency departments compared to urgent care facilities and found patients preferred urgent care clinics a whopping 229%. 

There were 9,616 urgent care medical centers in the U.S. as of 2019, with another 500-600 centers anticipated to open annually on an ongoing basis.

Urgent care centers have changed the way many Americans seek medical attention, but the increased healthcare accessibility is not without certain risks, unique to the urgent care environment. 

Downsides of Urgent Care

In urgent care centers, most medical professionals are attending patients without thorough medical histories. Information about patient allergies, chronic conditions, or medications they are taking must be provided, by the patient, at each visit.

If the urgent care facility operates independently from local hospitals or medical facilities, their ability to access patient medical records could be severely restricted. 

It’s not just major health issues that can put a patient at risk. For example, if you tend to faint at the sight of a needle, but your urgent care physician is unaware, you could suffer injury or harm from fainting in the treatment room if you are caught unaware. 

Because urgent care centers work on a per-person basis, doctors and patients tend not to develop the type of long-term personal relationships often experienced with a family physician. 

The lack of an ongoing relationship can mean a missed opportunity to build a comprehensive understanding of your medical condition. Without context, minor issues may be seen individually without recognizing they indicate a broader medical condition. 

Common Urgent Care Medical Malpractice Errors  

Regardless of size or location, all medical systems are required to provide a standard of care to the patients they treat. 

If the doctor, urgent care facility, or other medical professional acts (or fails to act) in a way that results in patient injury, it can mean urgent care medical malpractice occurred. 

Urgent care medical malpractice can take many forms, including the following. 

Failure To Diagnose Or Misdiagnosing Your Medical Condition

If an urgent care medical professional doesn’t correctly diagnose a medical condition or incorrectly identifies your condition, it can have a lasting impact on a patient’s life.  

Failure to identify certain conditions at the earliest possible stage can mean a longer road to recovery, in addition to increased medical bills and expenses, surgeries that would otherwise not have been necessary, medications, tests, etc.

For example, a patient going to an urgent care facility with a cough could receive a diagnosis of seasonal allergies and be sent home with a prescription of antihistamines. However, the cough could be an early indicator of lung cancer which often presents in the early stages as just a cough.

Failure To Treat Your Medical Condition Properly 

An accurate diagnosis is only helpful if the follow-up treatment is suitable for the condition. For example, providing a patient with an accurate diagnosis of diabetes needs to be accompanied by medical after-care or referral to a specialist. Failure to do so could mean you’ve experienced urgent care medical malpractice. 

Diagnostic Equipment Malfunction

If an imaging machine, such as an x-ray, ultrasounds, or CT scan malfunctions and fails to work the way it’s intended, patients can suffer. Equipment malfunctions can lead to inaccurate or delayed treatment, delayed or misdiagnosed medical conditions, and more.

Failure to Accurately Interpret Patient Tests

If the proper tests are ordered, but the technician or medical professional responsible for reading and understanding the test results gives the wrong interpretation, the patient might suffer direct harm and damages as a result.

Urgent care medical negligence and errors can result in severe damages, disabilities, injuries, or even death. If you think you or a loved one has experienced urgent care medical malpractice, you may be able to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation.

Can you file an urgent care medical malpractice case?

The law requires anyone interested in filing a malpractice case to meet the following three requirements:

  • The medical professionals or facility violated the legally recognized standards of care.
  • Your injury was a direct result of the negligence of the medical professional or facility.
  • You incurred significant damages — pain, suffering, disability, or financial — because of the injury.

If any of these instances occurred at or because of your time at an urgent care facility, you may have a case. 

Start by looking at medical malpractice lawyers in your area. Partnering with a compassionate and fearless lawyer with specialized medical malpractice experience is essential.

At Grover Lewis Johnson, we put our 25 years of specialized medical malpractice experience to work for you. 

Contact us today to book a no-charge, no-obligation consultation about your situation.

We are genuinely interested in our client’s cases, and because we work on a contingency basis, we don’t get our money until you get yours.