It’s big business.
While they offer conveniences like an easy way to get the flu shot or other vaccines, they are not a replacement for primary care, especially for kids.
The American Academy of Pediatrics repeated this message in a statement released today. “…Retail-based clinics are an inappropriate source of primary care for children because they fragment children’s health care and do not support the medical home.”
Why We Agree
I’ll break it down into three main reasons.
1. Kids are not little adults. A pediatric-trained provider ensures the best care. Many retail-based clinics and urgent care centers are not staffed with nurses or physicians trained to treat kids. This is important when choosing an after hours care for your child.
2. Continuity of care is a critical piece of exceptional medical care. Using your child’s physician practice whenever possible is ideal but not all providers offer evening or weekend hours. So, prepare for the unexpected by asking their recommendation. And if you go elsewhere, be sure that the treating provider communicates the results to your pediatrician.
3. Do NOT use retail based clinics for sports physicals, camp physicals, etc. Yes, it’s convenient, but don’t shortchange the value of seeing your own doctor. It may be the only time in an entire year that your child needs healthcare…so take the opportunity to visit your child’s primary care doc.
Of course, convenience and access are important, but why would you go to anything less than the best for your child?
I provide more details in Parents Magazine about the differences between convenience care clinics, urgent care centers, emergency rooms, after hours care, etc.
Ari Brown, MD