Pediatrics group tells parents to stay away from retail-based clinics

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INDIANAPOLIS – Retail health clinics have become a quick alternative to a doctor’s visit. You don’t need an appointment, and you can get treated fast, making it a prime choice for parents with sick kids and tight schedules. But according to a major pediatrics association, parents may want to think twice before using one of those retail clinics.

The physicians’ group believes a clinic visit shouldn’t be a substitute for time with a pediatrician, where doctors can track a child’s overall development.

With three girls, Gretchen Bricker knows what it’s like to be busy.

“Absolutely 100 percent crazy in this house,” she said.

That’s why she said when someone is sick, chances are they’ll end up at a retail clinic. Coupons on the counter prove the case.

“I would say we’re frequent fliers to the minute clinic,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t fit in our schedule to go to the doctor, even though our doctors try very hard to meet our schedule. It doesn’t always work that way.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics said that doctor’s visit is imperative. Monday, they reaffirmed a position they first held in 2006, against retail-based clinics.

“As pediatric patients and their health issues become more complex, the concern exists that even a child presenting with a simple complaint may have a more serious, unrecognized condition. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to oppose retail-based clinics as a source of primary care for pediatric patients,” said Dr. James J. Laughlin, lead author of the policy statement. You can read it in its entirety here. 

The statement comes as the number of retail-based clinics in the country could double by next year.

“I’ve been to the minute clinic where they’ve said, you know that’s something you want to talk to your doctor about,” said Bricker.

Bricker said she keeps the family doctors up to speed if the girls visit a retail clinic. Sometimes it’s tough enough just to get them there.

The AAP said Monday in its statement that pediatricians should extend hours and even offer same-day appointments, so their services are better for busy families.