LIABILITY FOR DELAY IN CARE?

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The wait at some urgent-care centers is very long—up to three hours. What happens if the patient is suffering a stroke or a heart attack? Can the delay in seeing such patients leave a physician vulnerable to a lawsuit?
—Felix N. Chien, DO, Newport Beach, Calif.

Waiting conditions are arguably part of the standard of care, and lawsuits have been brought over such issues as inadequate triage, keeping the client from getting urgent care, or failure to live up to advertising that states “no waiting” or offers similar services. Generally, such claims are met skeptically by the jury if the reason the patient was not seen was that the provider was busy with other patients. (Absence to have lunch or go to the bank leaves a bad impression with a jury.)
—David S. Starr, MD, JD (114-12)

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