There have been many changes in healthcare and how patients obtain treatment over the past few decades. One of the major changes is the increased popularity of urgent care and walk-in facilities where patients can obtain treatment when their own doctors are not available. However, along with the increased number of these facilities, comes an increased number of medical errors resulting in patient injury. This leaves many injured patients wondering if these types of injuries are legally handled the same way other types of preventable medical mistakes are. A seasoned North Carolina medical malpractice attorney can help answer any questions you have.
What Are Walk-In and Urgent Care Facilities?
In the past, when a person was ill or injured and their doctor was not available, either it was after hours, weekends, or the doctor had no appointments available, they were often left with no choice but to go to the emergency room of the local hospital for treatment. In many cases, these were not really “emergencies” and patients were often left waiting for hours before they were seen by a physician. This also often created an overburdened emergency room.
That’s where walk-in clinics and urgent care facilities came in. These facilities are equipped to handle non-life-threatening emergencies. Some are open around-the-clock, while others are only opened during regular business hours, with some extended hours during nights and/or weekends.
The Failures of Urgent Care Facilities
Many people who go to urgent care facilities do so because they assume their symptoms are a minor medical problem, such as the flu, heartburn, etc., but they may well be actually experiencing a dangerous medical condition. And because of the “express” mindset of getting patients in and out of these facilities, many of the symptoms of a dangerous condition are overlooked by the medical staff – with dangerous consequences.
All of these facilities have the equipment to check and monitor a patient’s vital signs, but many fail to re-evaluate the patient before sending them home. One study found that 10 percent of patients who were classified as high risk were still discharged. And 16 percent of patients were sent home without rechecking their vital signs.
The patient who was told he has a bad chest cold and to go home and rest suddenly goes into cardiac arrest and dies because of the medical staff’s failure to accurately diagnose.
Were You a Victim of Malpractice in North Carolina?
If you or a family member suffered an injury because of a medical error or missed diagnoses, contact a compassionate North Carolina malpractice attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have against the facility that was responsible.