Lawsuit Alleges NY Urgent Care Centers Lack Regulation

Jacky Gale | November 24th, 2014

Urgent Care Emergency

Urgent care centers appear to be the perfect marriage of emergency medicine and primary physician care. They enable patients with non-life-threatening medical emergencies to get quick access to treatment without having to wait for a regular doctor’s appointment, usually at a much lower price than they would have paid at an emergency room.

Some estimates suggest that as many as three million U.S. patients visit an urgent care clinic for various medical problems every week. Although urgent care centers serve a valuable need in the community, patient safety advocates have recently begun questioning whether urgent care clinics are subject to sufficiently strict oversight. In fact, some patients have had to file urgent care center lawsuits, including at least one in New York.

Critically ill patient was not treated by a physician

Like countless other patients across the U.S., George Trovato, a 39-year-old New York man, visited an urgent care clinic three years ago because he was suffering from joint pain. The father of two was diagnosed and treated by a physician assistant at Island Urgent Care in Wading Rivers. Trovato was told to address his joint pain by starting an exercise routine. A few weeks after his visit to the urgent care clinic, Trovato suffered a heart attack. He did not survive.

Jennifer Trovato, George’s wife, subsequently filed a New York urgent care center lawsuit. She alleges that the family never knew George had never been seen by a doctor at the urgent care clinic and that George never underwent the diagnostic tests that may have saved his life. She is demanding compensation for the loss of her husband, alleging that the negligence of the clinic and the physician assistant contributed to his death. Trovato’s lawsuit is quickly becoming a rallying point for advocates who note the rising trend of NY urgent care center malpractice and demand reforms in oversight.

Patient advocate points to lack of regulatory system

In New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, it is legal for physician assistants to see patients, as long as they do so under the supervision of a doctor. Currently, email or phone is considered to be an acceptable level of supervision, as was the case with the physician assistant who treated George Trovato at Island Urgent Care. In this particular case, it has been alleged that the physician assistant was allowed to treat patients two to three days per week without having a doctor on the premises. It is unknown if the physician assistant got in contact with the doctor via phone or email before recommending exercise for Trovato without the benefit of diagnostic tests.

Patient advocates point out that the failure to have a doctor on the premises could open the door to medical negligence. They have also noted other potential problems with these clinics, such as the lack of a regular inspection system for urgent care clinics. This means there is no way for patients to look up the violation history of an urgent care center. And while patients can call hotlines regarding doctor or hospital negligence, there is currently no such hotline specifically for urgent care clinics.

New York has already begun tightening regulations for urgent care centers. However, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other states have yet to follow suit.

NY medical malpractice attorneys

The lawyers at The Sanders Firm offer complimentary case reviews to those who believe they or a family member may have been the victim of NY urgent care center malpractice. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation to determine who may be held liable for your injuries and losses.

Call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY today to schedule a no-obligation consultation with our medical malpractice team.