With the rising cost of health care and the need for quick service, urgent care centers are booming across the country. Fifty to 100 new private and hospital-affiliated centers open every year. But, a Channel 11 investigation revealed, not every center is created equal. Channel 11's Katherine Amenta found out what your family needs to be asking and why.
You walk in and you want to know that you're in a safe place," said MedExpress patient and mother Kristin Becket. Busy moms like Kristin Becket have started making urgent care centers their go-to for immediate medical care. But, Channel 11 has uncovered that the industry has grown so quickly, regulations haven't caught up yet."It's
a little difficult. It's a little wild West," said Dr. Michael
Martino, director of urgent care strategic development for Allegheny
Health Network. "There's not really a regulating body that will
come in and say ... you're having trouble in this and this area and
until you fix that up, we're not going to let you see patients," Martino
said.Martino very clearly points out, that doesn't mean urgent
cares are unsafe -- it just means you have to do your research and find
where the oversight does exist.
First, does a center have national accreditation from organizations
like the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine or The Joint
Commission? It's a voluntary process based on regular inspections and
performance.Next, ask who is providing your care. Dr. Thomas
Pangburn, vice president of clinical and provider quality for
MedExpress, says that's key. "Do you have a full medical team?" Pangburn said this is a question you should ask. Channel
11 learned that urgent cares are not required to have a doctor on site
at all times, but it's strongly recommended by some experts. Board
certified nurses, physician assistants and doctors are also recommended,
but again, not mandated. And, while a radiologist is not required to
read your X-rays, they are the most qualified. "That is very crucial. We have board-certified radiologists read all our X-rays," said Pangburn. So what’s the doctor's advice? Be informed and choose the best options for your family.Both MedExpress and AGH's Suburban Urgent Care meet the standards laid out in this research.
Watch the video:
Both Allegheny Urgent Care Associates and MedExpress are Accredited through the National UrgentCare Center Accreditation program. The National Urgent
Care Center Accreditation program is an independent, non-profit
organization that provides Accreditation to properly qualified Urgent
throughout the United States. The National Urgent
Care Center Accreditation program is
recognized by the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM) to
provide such Accreditation.
Search for Urgent Care centers near your zip code.