American Academy of Pediatrics discourages parents from taking sick kids to retail health clinics

KANAS CITY, Mo. - The American Academy of Pediatrics is discouraging parents from taking sick kids to retail health clinics.

In a report published Monday, the AAP 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.

The lead author of the report, Dr. James Laughlin, is a pediatrician at Indiana University, and says parents should stick with taking their kids to their doctor because they can develop a relationship with the families, and be able to detect subtle problems that might otherwise be overlooked.

"We see children from birth through age 21, sometimes older, and so we have an understanding of that child and that family dynamics," Laughlin said.

Retail health clinics like the CVS MinuteClinic, Walgreens' Health Clinic and Krogers' The Little Clinic among others are becoming a popular alternative to the doctor's office with more than 20 million patient visits, according to Hansen-Turton.

The clinics’ shorter wait times, lower costs and longer hours should not be the trade-off for secondary healthcare, according to AAP.

“The AAP recognizes that convenience and access to care will continue to be important drivers of how health care is delivered,” Laughlin said. “However, the expertise of the pediatrician and the medical home should continue to be recognized as the standard for care of children, and we encourage all AAP members to provide accessible hours and locations as part of a medical home.”

Laughlin said if parents decide to take their kids to a retail health clinic, it's important that the information is forwarded on to the child's pediatrician so the doctor has a complete health history.

Representatives from CVS and Walgreens say they play a complimentary role in child health care. They do not try to replace a pediatrician, and instead encourage patients to make regular visits to the child's doctor. They will even refer patients who don't already have a family doctor.

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