On December 8, 2014, the mother of a young girl who died after being negligently treated at an urgent care center in Louisiana filed a medical malpractice/wrongful death lawsuit against the urgent care facility, seeking unspecified compensatory damages for wrongful death as well as for her mental anguish and her daughter’s funeral expenses. The mother’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the defendant urgent care clinic failed to order lab tests that would have led to the proper medical diagnosis, which would have resulted in her daughter receiving urgently needed medical treatment that would have prevented her death.
The mother’s devastating odyssey began on January 20, 2012, when she brought her daughter to a New Orleans urgent care facility because her daughter was nauseous and was vomiting. The after-hours urgent care clinic staff examined her daughter and decided that she had a gastric infection, for which she was prescribed anti-nausea medicine and was sent home (no lab tests were ordered). The following day, the mother brought her daughter back to the same urgent care clinic when her daughter became unresponsive and had no pulse. The defendant’s staff performed CPR on the daughter and she was transported to the local hospital, but she succumbed to her medical condition.
The grieving mother’s medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the defendant urgent care center negligently failed to diagnose her daughter’s high glucose level and high level of potassium during the initial visit, and that the defendant subsequently failed to provide an IV site during the resuscitation efforts, which prevented the proper medications from being timely administered.
According to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine, urgent care medicine (“UCM”) is the provision of immediate medical service offering outpatient care for the treatment of acute and chronic illness and injury. UCM does not replace a primary care physician: an urgent care center is an option when someone’s regular physician is on vacation, the patient is unable to schedule a timely appointment, the treatment needed is beyond the scope or availability of the primary care physician’s practice, or when non-life threatening illnesses or injuries occur outside of normal office hours. An urgent care center may be a convenient and less-expensive alternative to spending time waiting to be seen in a hospital emergency room.
According to the Urgent Care Association of America (“UCAOA”), there are up to 9,000 urgent care facilities in the United States, which see between 71,136,000 and 160,056,000 patient visits per year (urgent care centers see about 342 patient visits per week, on average). There are about 300 new urgent care facilities that are opened each year; per-center visits have increased by about 28 per month.
Of those Americans who have a primary care physician, 57% reported that they had access to same-day or next-day appointments with their physicians (in 2010, 20% of adults reported that they waited six or more days for an appointment with their physician when they were sick), and 63% reported that they had difficulty with access to care during the night, on weekends, or during holidays without going to the emergency room.
The average wait time to be seen in a hospital emergency room rose to over four hours in 2009. There is a $228 to $583 difference in costs between urgent care visits and emergency room visits, for the same diagnosis.
If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of negligent care at an urgent care center in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your urgent care claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice claim against an urgent care center, if appropriate.
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