Should parents use retail clinics for kids?
According to an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should not receive primary care from clinics at retail outlets like the local pharmacy.
For kids, being seen in their “medical home,” a place where family and primary care providers can collaborate on their care is important as it allows all their health information to be stored in one location. Because retail medicine clinics do not have access to information in the medical home, this can make treating patients more challenging, the AAP says.
In the statement, the AAP raised concerns with retail clinics not only because it fragments medical care but also because of concerns regarding:
- Retail clinics ordering tests and not following up on results
- Cleanliness of the clinics. Retail areas are not under the same sanitation standards as a physician’s office.
- Losing an additional touch point for physicians with their patients. Many times, physicians use sick visits as a chance to build a relationship with patients and discuss overall wellness topics such as diet and exercise.
“Using the quick care clinics denies a child the opportunity to be evaluated in the context of their immunization status, their previous infections and the success or lack of success of antibiotic treatments, and their past medical history,” said Dr. Kerry Sheehan, a pediatrician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “All of these parameters can influence diagnosis and treatment.”
Dr. Andrew J. Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and senior vice president/associate chief medical officer at CVS Caremark, acknowledges the importance of a medical home and says that CVS offers patients without a pediatrician a list of physicians in the area.
In cases of emergency, the AAP acknowledges that services outside of the medical home may be necessary; however parents should find a retail-based clinic with a formal relationship with their child’s pediatrician. This will allow for the clinic to share information about the visit and follow up. The AAP also encourages pediatricians to provide accessible hours and locations for their patients.
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