Urgent Care Malpractice Lawyers in NJ
Urgent Care Center Injury Attorneys Serving Hackensack, Edison, Freehold, NJ
If symptoms led you to an urgent care center and you ended up getting worse or experiencing complications due to an incorrect diagnosis or entirely missed diagnosis, you may be wondering if and when urgent care centers can be held liable for malpractice. With the prevalence of walk-in clinics in New Jersey and across the country, medical mistakes in these facilities is common, with the potential to result in serious harm. When a patient seeks help with an illness, injury, or medical condition at an urgent care center, the assumption is that those medical professionals operating within the facility have sufficient training and experience, or at the very least, the ability to recognize and refer patients to better-equipped hospitals and emergency rooms if their symptoms are beyond the scope of the urgent care center’s abilities. Seemingly innocuous symptoms like stomach pains can actually be signs of a serious, even life-threatening condition like a heart attack, so urgent care professionals need to be ready and able to distinguish between everyday conditions and potential emergency situations. When an urgent care doctor fails to accurately diagnose or properly treat a patient’s condition, this may constitute medical negligence for which the physician and the facility may be held liable.
With decades of experience assisting victims young and old who have suffered injuries from medical negligence in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical centers across the state, we have the knowledge and resources to evaluate your case, advise you of your legal options, and diligently pursue compensation on your behalf if a physician or medical facility is responsible for causing you harm. Our practice is dedicated to aiding children, adults, and infants who have been injured due to medical errors in Newark, Summit, Springfield, New Brunswick, Paramus, and throughout New Jersey. Simply call our office at 973-435-4551 or request a free consultation online to discuss your case and receive more information.
What Urgent Care Centers Do and Don’t Do
The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM) estimates that there are approximately 8,000 urgent care centers in the U.S. Many of these hybrid facilities, which blend the services of primary care offices and emergency rooms, are located in New Jersey and the tristate area. These centers, often referred to as walk-in clinics, provide outpatient treatment for patients with certain sudden, acute, or chronic illnesses and injuries. Practitioners in urgent care centers team up with patient primary care doctors and specialists to deliver global patient care. Nevertheless, an urgent care center is not a replacement for a primary care doctor who knows a patient’s health history and delivers medical care to repeat patients on a regular basis. These centers are typically engaged in at least initial evaluation and potential treatment of patients seeking care when waiting hours in an emergency room is not an option, the primary care doctor is not available, or a patient seeks care outside of the doctor’s normal hours of operation. Essentially, an urgent care clinic is for non-life-threatening emergency care convenience.
The urgent care practitioner is a cross between a family physician and an emergency room (ER) doctor. As such, they treat a broad range of general and chronic illnesses across the general population, as a family physician does, as well as provide acute care that ER doctors routinely face. Notably, urgent care center doctors do not engage in long-term care, nor do they treat the more serious cases often addressed in the ER. The UCC physician should refer these types of patients to specialists or appropriate facilities that can provide the care they need. For instance, a patient who needs immediate surgery must go to a hospital, as surgeries are not performed at urgent care centers. Moreover, urgent care medicine is restricted to the equipment on hand and typically involves office-based testing, as opposed to technologically sophisticated tests like scans and laboratories found in a hospital. For this reason, patients needing more than an x-ray, urinalysis, or more sophisticated medical testing are sent to the hospital, as well as critically ill patients needing long-term care and observation.
Symptoms that Often Lead to Urgent Care Visits
The patients who benefit from urgent care medicine are those who need immediate care that is not immediately life-threatening, but could be if left unattended. Some of the most common symptoms for which individuals go to an urgent care center include:
- Stomach pains
- Allergic reactions
- Back pain
- Flu symptoms
- Various infections
- Nausea or vomiting
- Asthma attacks
- Mild concussions
- Fractures; and
Sadly, the very same types of patients who seek urgent center medical care are the ones most at risk when urgent care center practitioners such as doctors and nurses, fail to fulfill their obligation to provide an acceptable standard of care.
Medical Negligence at Urgent Care Centers in New Jersey
The source of most medical malpractice claims involves some failure to diagnose, and urgent care facilities are no exception. As in other healthcare treatment centers, failed diagnosis of heart failure, cancer, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and acute renal failure are among the most common. Since urgent care facilities are often accessed outside of the hours of a patient’s primary care physician’s office, medical providers at these clinics do not follow up and reexamine patients for the duration of the patient’s illness, making diagnosis more of a challenge and often incomplete.
Other factors contributing to misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis are an urgent care doctor’s inadequate documentation of pertinent facts that might inform a diagnosis for a treating physician down the line, as well as inconsistency in healthcare providers in continuity of care. Since urgent care doctors are not the same as primary care physicians, the patient may only see them once or twice. Often, it is not even the same doctor seeing a patient between urgent care visits. In any healthcare setting, continuity of care helps to avoid misdiagnosis. Failing to pass on important information to the primary care physician contributes to faulty diagnosis, and not referring patients to specialists or facilities better equipped to deal with the patient’s condition may be considered malpractice when a patient’s condition worsens due to such omissions.
Medical malpractice cases involving urgent care doctors and centers may involve inconsistency of care, which occurs when one patient returns multiple times, seeing a different physician each time for the same persistent condition, and failure to order tests to help diagnose conditions. Other urgent care failures of care occur when a medical professional allows a patient with highly abnormal vital signs to leave the urgent care center without closely analyzing the cause of the abnormal vital signs or referring the patient to an emergency center. In fact, a shockingly high number of patients leave urgent care with abnormal vital signs, which may indicate the need for further care and medical intervention. Tragically, these failures have led to patients dying of sepsis or pulmonary embolism.
Consult a New Jersey Urgent Care Negligence Lawyer Today
If you are a victim of urgent care malpractice in New Jersey, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. The two-year statute of limitations and complexity of medical malpractice litigation demands that you take action as soon as possible, and seeking guidance from an attorney who regularly practices in this field is strongly encouraged. For answers and personalized assistance regarding your specific case, call at 973-435-4551 today. You can reach us 24/7 to seek counsel from a lawyer who can help. Consultations are always provided at no cost to you.