With the advent of convenience store clinics and big-box docs, as written about in this article in the San Diego Union Tribune, there is a need for consumers to be very much on their toes, especially if symptoms do not get better quickly. Patients would be best advised to get second opinions or emergency treatment fast in those situations. All doctors are held to particular standards of care, and often speed does not equal quality. A one-stop shopping approach to health care may help for on-the-go convenience, but is not necessarily the best. This is particularly so if the ailment does not meet a standard profile, or the attention of a specialist is required.
The law in California is that physicians who elect to treat a patient even though the patient should have been referred to a specialist will be held to the standard of care of that specialist. If the physician meets the higher standard of care, he or she is not negligent. (Simone v. Sabo (1951) 37 Cal.2d 253, 257 [231 P.2d 19].) This is a difficult standard to meet and general practitioners often have trouble meeting it. There should and will be times these convenience docs cannot treat the condition and refer the patient to someone working in the specialty field – cardiology, ophthalmology, dermatology, etc. While this blog is not meant to criticize the credentials of doctors working in these ‘faster, cheaper’ venues, this is just a general caution that health should never be taken lightly and while some illnesses can be addressed by over-the-counter, pharmacist or quick doc advice, if the problems persist or progress, the safest approach would be to get other medical help immediately.