insta care

The Danger of the Neighborhood InstaCare

Let’s talk about the neighborhood InstaCare. Have I ever gone to an InstaCare? Yes. Have I ever taken a sick child to an InstaCare? Yes. They are convenient. They are probably closer to your home than the closest emergency room. The wait time to see a doctor is probably shorter.

But understand exactly what you’re getting when you go to the InstaCare. You are probably getting a family practitioner or, even more likely, a physician assistant. You are not getting a board certified emergency room specialist. Even more important, you are not getting quick access to a CT scan or an MRI. No InstaCare has quick, instantaneous access to a large hospital with multiple specialists.

Here’s the problem: There are a number of life-threatening medical conditions which are time sensitive and treatable: heart attack, stroke, aortic dissection, aneurysm, sepsis, bowel obstruction, blood clot in the lung, etc.

They can’t treat you for those diseases at the InstaCare. They can in an emergency room.

Family practitioners who choose to “moonlight” in an InstaCare are generally inexperienced and/or unsuccessful in private practice. No one dreams of a career in an InstaCare when they go to medical school.

We’ve seen this multiple times in our law firm. The client has a life-threatening illness. The well-meaning InstaCare provider has limited experience and limited diagnostic resources. They assume it’s nothing. (The vast majority of InstaCare visits involve problems which are not life-threatening.) They send the patient home. By the time the patient gets to a true emergency room, it’s too late to save his or her life. Or worse, the patient just goes home and dies.

If there is any chance that your medical problem could be life-threatening, you are much better off in an emergency room. Never go to an InstaCare for stroke-like symptoms. Never go to an InstaCare for severe chest pain.

Never go to an InstaCare if you expect a sophisticated diagnosis or access to a medical specialist such as a cardiologist, a surgeon, etc.

Why do they have InstaCares? Because they are profitable. They make money. They are less expensive to build than an emergency room.

Note: On a related topic, if there is any chance that you are having a stroke, heart attack, aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, or that you are becoming septic, don’t waste valuable time trying to reach your family doctor. Go to the emergency room immediately.