After a southern-Indiana teen died of heat stroke last week, questions arose about the accusation that he was denied treatment at an immediate care center. According to accounts, the boy’s stepfather took him to the Norton Immediate Care Center in Lyndon before calling EMS at the center’s advisement. A Norton Spokesperson said this week that the boy was not denied care and was not actually brought into the clinic. Rather, his stepfather described his symptoms to the doctors, who referred the man to an emergency room.
State statutes do not require an urgent care center to be equipped to handle ailments like heat stroke, which can be life threatening. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services advises patients with life or limb threatening injuries to seek care at an emergency room or treatment facility.
University of Louisville professor of emergency medicine Timothy Price says patients should think of an urgent care center like a walk-in doctor’s office.
“One of these immediate care center places, you know they don’t have the ability to sort of admit a patient or observe a patient for an extended period of time,” Price says “they’re essentially like a doctor’s office, you wouldn’t expect to to go into your doctor’s and be seen and be able to stay there for four hours while you’re receiving ongoing treatment and then being discharged.”
Price says heat stroke causes disorientation beyond the exhaustion associated with minor heat-related illness, and should always be treated as an emergency.
With the extreme heat this summer, the Cabinet has also issued guidance on avoiding heat-related illness and warns of the dangers associated with them.