Visitor Question

Turned away by urgent care?

Submitted By: LaToshia (Lancaster, CA)

I went to urgent care tonight (02/04/2015) and was sent away by a triage rep. I went in there because my scalp is sore and I think I may have been bitten by a spider. I have a couple of bumps on my scalp and a couple of tender spot on my scalp.

It was 10:14pm when the triage nurse called me back to the back. He proceeded to ask me what was wrong and after I told him he gave me two options, to come back in the am at 8am or go to the emergency room.

He said that they only had one doctor working that night and the doctor was off at 12am. He said there were patients that were already waiting who might not be seen, because the doctor walks out the door at 12am sharp.

I find it hard to believe that a doctor can just walk out when there are about 7 people in the waiting area. I just don’t understand how they can just turn people away because the doctor wants to get off exactly at 12am.

How is this possible? Don’t they have an obligation to treat people who show up for “urgent care.” Aren’t they liable if someone is then more severely injured due to lack of treatment, or even dies? Can you please explain this? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear LaToshia,

Urgent care clinics are only required to stabilize patients who present with serious injuries or illness, so that the patients can be seen by their own doctor or hospital at a later time. However, patients who come to an urgent care facility with an emergency which is life-threatening must be seen, even if the doctor has to work past his normal work hours.

It is logical to presume the night you went to the urgent care clinic the triage nurse decided your injury, and possibly the injuries of others waiting to see the doctor, were not of an emergent nature and therefore not sufficient to require the doctor to treat them that night.

An urgent care doctor has a right to work the same hours as any other worker in a similar position. It is logical to assume the doctor worked his or her shift and then left work as other workers do when they leave their jobs at the close of business.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 5, 2015

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