AAP against retail-based clinics for children primary care

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Many parents who are pressed for time and money look for convenient ways to get medical care for their children. But doctors say convenience may not be the best option.

Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report updating their current polices which strongly oppose retail-based clinics.

According to the Convenient Care Association, the trade group that oversees retail-based clinics such as MinuteClinic and Healthcare Clinic, there are currently more than 1,600 retail-based convenient care clinics in 39 states and the District of Columbia that have served more than 20 million consumers to date-- including the pediatric population. It said the clinics offer a quick, affordable alternative for patients with pressing, non-emergency medical needs. 

In the report by the AAP, it emphasized retail-based clinics are an inappropriate source of primary care for children because they do not provide children with high-quality, regular and preventive health care.

Tinka Barnes takes her 2-year-old son Nnamdi to the University of Kansas Hospital for pediatric care. She said her son feels more comfortable being around staff he knows.

"Familiarity is really important. When children are not feeling too good, they want to see that nurse and they want to give them a hug and be able to interact with the staff that they're familiar with," she said.

Steve Lauer, a pediatrician the University of Kansas Hospital, said sometimes retail-based clinics may overlook simple problems that could be related to a more serious condition.

"These clinics don’t necessarily know their medical record or how they’ve been treated before,” Lauer said. 

In a statement from a spokesperson from CVS they wrote, “As a health care provider, MinuteClinic is focused on delivering high quality, accessible care for common illnesses.  We are committed to continuity of care, fully support the physician-led medical home and believe that MinuteClinic can play a complementary role with primary care practices, including pediatricians, in providing care to patients from 18 months of age through adults.”

A spokesperson from Walgreens also responded with the following:

“We strongly encourage all patients to have a relationship with a primary care physician and medical home for ongoing medical needs and routine exams.  Our objective as part of the health care team is to support and complement physicians’ care plans, as well as the traditional health care system and provider practices by offering expanded access and convenience to patients seeking health care services, while also facilitating continuity of care at every touch point. “

For millions of busy families on a budget, retail-based clinics are the best option.

“I work full-time and when I come because my child is sick, I have just enough time to get him to CVS. I save a 20-minute drive and having to wait three hours to see the doctor,” Kansas City father Charles Corbin said.

This is reality that local doctors say they are working to address.

"Our patients cannot and will not wait for weeks and months to get in. They have options. We may not think they're the best option but we're going to have to step up to the plate on this and make sure we're doing a better job," Lauer said. 

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