Are retail healthcare clinics held to the same liability standards as a doctor's office?
In this segment, Healthcare Matters interviews ALL MD attorney Troy Bundy about the modern phenomena where basic healthcare is being dispensed in big-box retail stores and whether doing so increases the level of malpractice risk.
Bundy is a hiring partner at Hart Wagner LLP in Portland, Ore., where he defends healthcare professionals against claims of malpractice, cyber-liability, HIPAA and DEA investigations, health-related business formation and contract resolution, licensing board matters, billing disputes and privileging issues.
Bundy 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.
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Interview was recorded October 14, 2015
Mike Matray: Hello and 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 Troy Bundy. Mr. Bundy is a hiring partner at Hart and Wagner in Portland, Oregon where he has been defending healthcare professionals since he joined the firm in 1996. Welcome to the show, Troy.
Troy Bundy: Thanks, good to be here.
Mike: A relatively recent phenomenon in healthcare delivery has been the expanding availability of healthcare services in America’s big box retail stores. CVS recently purchased Target’s [SP] in-store health clinics, making it the largest retail healthcare clinic chain. How do liability risks differ in these big box retailers as opposed to a doctor’s office and how would you recommend that these new healthcare delivery sites mitigate their risks?
Troy: Well, as far as an evaluation of how the risks differ, I would have to say that there is no difference in a big box retailer clinic as opposed to a regular stand-alone clinic as far as the standard of care is concerned. So, the reality is that there are not differing standards of care for a stand-alone clinic versus one that’s in one of these retailers. The risks are that the staff will pretend as though the standard of care is different, but I think in reality, I’ve personally have never seen that occur. I, myself have gone to an ophthalmologist, for instance, in Costco. Examinations are the same and everything is the same. But I think there could be a potential risk that the services are not treated as though they are within a stand-alone clinic. The reality is that you need to, if you are operating a stand-alone clinic, you need to follow protocol: appropriate charting, EMR and refer patients when you need to. If there is any suggestion that a referral is indicated, it needs to occur. The other risk is, I think, from a patient perspective they may or may not treat the visit as though they were going to a formal physician’s office or clinic setting and so, it’s going to be important for the clinician to probably dig a little bit deeper in determining what problems or complaints the patient has that’s bringing them to the clinic that particular day.