Should You Use a Retail Clinic, Walk-In Urgent Care, or Your Primary Care Office For Most Care? (AAP advises- No)
As of 2012, the number of retail-based clinics is over 6000 and they are sprouting up everywhere. The driving market force is cost and convenience. Your child is ill and your pediatrician’s office is closed, why not go to the nearest urgent care or walk-in clinic?
Feb 24th. 2014 – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just released the following policy statement: “The AAP views retail-based clinics (RBCs) as an inappropriate source of primary care for pediatric patients, as they fragment medical care and are detrimental to the medical home concept of longitudinal and coordinated care”.
At Integrative Pediatrics, we have qualified as a medical home, the ideal, most comprehensive model of care where your child and family get comprehensive coordination of care. This is the best form of health care, since we will know everything that is going on and can catch things that would likely be missed if you just drop in to urgent care clinics. Most urgent care clinics are staffed by internal medicine (adult medicine) or family practice doctors who may or may not have much experience caring for young children.
My experience has been that urgent care clinics in general do not forward the medical records from your visit to your pediatrician. It seems many are trying to become your walk-in, any-time source of health care. While this may work for a rare urgent need, it prevents your pediatrician from knowing the full picture of what is going on for your child. The AAP goes on to say: “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.” At Pediatric Urgent Care, we have hours that complement, (not compete with) your pediatrician’s office hours, being open until 9 PM most days of the year. We fax a copy of your child’s visit to your primary care doctor the same day they are seen. We follow-up on all labs and forward this information to your doctor, and we make phone calls to your doctor when the condition needs follow-up. This attention to detail is lacking from most retail walk-in clinics.
My recommendation: always contact your primary care physician if you feel your child needs to be seen. Have them guide you on the best place to take your child, if they agree that the condition cannot wait for office hours, they will guide you on the best place to take your child. Obviously a 911 emergency is just that- 911 and get to the ER.