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Pediatricians Warn Parents Against Using Retail Health Clinics

Update Date: Feb 24, 2014 10:12 AM EST

Drug store chains across the United States have added a new kind of service, health clinics. These retail health clinics employ mostly nurses and sometimes offsite physicians, to give medical advice and recommendations to people with non-life threatening health conditions. Even though this type of service aims to provide good medical care at a lower cost and faster pace, the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) has advised parents to avoid these clinics when seeking medical care for their children.

"We want to do all we can to support the concept of 'medical home' for kids," said James Laughlin, the lead author of the statement, reported by FOX News.

The concept of a "medical home" is the idea that the physician knows the patient's record extremely well and can help the patient with his/her medical needs. For children in particular, having one doctor that knows the children's medical history could be highly beneficial. For example, pediatricians that have had the same patient for several years are more informed about the patient's medical history, such as which medications work better than others.

In the report, the pediatricians acknowledged the fact that retail health clinics might seem like a good choice for busy families since they tend to be opened all week. Patients do not need to call in advance for an appointment and the costs are around 30 to 40 percent less than the costs for similar services at a doctor's office. However, regardless of the convenience, retail health clinics should not replace the doctor's office.

"They are a more convenient option for parents with sick children than the alternative, which is often waiting for an appointment or spending hours in a high-cost emergency room for a minor pediatric complaint," Tine Hansen-Turton, the Convenient Care Association's executive director, said reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Despite the academy's recommendation against seeking care at these clinics for children, the AAP does support retail health care services that refer the patients back to their primary care physician in order to update the office with the patient's latest medical findings. The AAP stated that so far, retail health care services that have this kind of partnership are the minority.

"The tendency to work collaboratively has not been there," Laughlin added.

The American Nurses Association has responded, according to NBC news, stating, "The latest policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics is just another attempt to preserve the status quo."

The report was published in Pediatrics.

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