Retail-Based Clinics Shouldn't Be Primary Care Spots, Doctors Say

Retail medical clinics, first opened in the U.S. in 2000, have popped up in grocery stores, drug store chains and "big box" stores. There were more than 6,000 such locations in the country as of 2012, according to the policy update published in the journal Pediatrics.

Representatives from Walgreens and CVS, both national drugstore chains with associated medical clinics at some locations, largely agree with the AAP guidelines and do not encourage people to use their services as primary care.

"We strongly encourage all patients to have a relationship with a primary care physician and medical home for ongoing medical needs and routine exams," Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn told Reuters Health.

The statement only refers to the types of clinics that are built into other businesses, not freestanding "urgent care" clinics, which have also grown in popularity and have some of the same drawbacks.

According to the authors of the statement, taking kids to retail clinics instead of primary care pediatricians fragments care, since the kids don't always see the same medical provider. A child could have chronic ear infections or other long-term medical problems that seem to the providers at various retail clinics like unrelated single events.

Image: Mom and child at pharmacy, via Shutterstock


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