An internet television program that explores the intersection of medicine and the law.

Does a Big-box Retailer's Liability Risks Differ from a Clinic or Hospital

By John Degnan to Malpractice Cases of Note


In this episode, Healthcare Matters interviews ALL MD attorney John Degnan on how medical liability risks in a retail health clinic differ than those in a doctor’s office or hospital.

Degnan is a shareholder at BRIGGS & MORGAN. He practices law in Minnesota, representing clients in business disputes, as well as members of the legal and medical communities in professional matters.

Degnan is a charter member of the Association of Liability Lawyers in Medical Defense (ALL MD), a nationwide organization that connects healthcare providers with attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice defense.

Interview was recorded October 14, 2015

Question 1 of 5


Mike Matray: Welcome to Healthcare Matters, where the medical and legal communities come together to discuss healthcare matters. I’m your host Mike Matray and today’s guest is John Degnan. He’s a shareholder at Briggs and Morgan in Minneapolis, where he regularly represents clients in business disputes as well as members of the legal and medical communities in professional matters. Welcome back, John.

John Degnan: Thank you. Glad to be here again.

Mike: Well why don’t we start? A relatively recent phenomenon in healthcare delivery has been the expanding availability of healthcare in America’s big-box retail stores. CBS recently purchased Target’s in-store health clinics, making it the largest provider of healthcare of the retail outlets. How do liability risks differ within these big-box retailers, as opposed to a doctor’s office? And how would you recommend these new healthcare delivery sites mitigate the risks?

John: Well, I first think that it’s a real good benefit for our people to be able to come to such minute clinics, etc. But providers should keep in mind that it doesn’t change the standard of care. It’s basically the same standard of care as it would be for primary care doctors or specifically for an urgent care center. And I think that the real tension is between the efficiency factors, because they’ll see so many people, but at the same time the need to completely document the care. And that includes particularly good discharge instruction handouts on follow-up care that’s needed, and even more important if there’s a necessary referral to make sure that it’s a clear referral for further care.

Mike: That’s my understanding. I’ve been told that it’s basically evidence-based healthcare. And that the biggest liability would be if there wasn’t a referral. If a more pressing healthcare issue was discovered.

John: Yes. And the danger with the duty to refer is this. If there is a need to refer and it’s not done, then that provider could be held to the same standard of care as that specialist. So if it’s a cardiologist that should’ve been getting a referral, they well could have a cardiologist to express standard of care issues, if there was a duty to refer. So it’s particularly important for providers to keep in mind.