An updated policy statement, scheduled to be published in the March issue of Pediatrics, said the AAP emphasized retail-based clinics such as found in drug stores are an inappropriate source of primary care for children because they fragment children's healthcare and do not support the medical home.
Officials at the AAP said the number of retail-based clinics was more than 6,000 in 2012. Surveys indicated 15 percent of children are likely to use a retail-based clinic in the future, although the majority of patients are adults.
"The AAP recognizes that convenience and access to care will continue to be important drivers of how healthcare is delivered," lead author Dr. James Laughlin said in a statement. "However, 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."
Pediatricians are specifically trained in child health issues. They know each child's health history, and are best equipped to take care of both simple and complicated problems comprehensively within the medical home, Laughlin said.
The medical home is the optimal standard of care for pediatric patients, and while the AAP does not recommend parents use retail-based health clinics, it is understood the services of these clinics might be used for acute care outside of the medical home.
If parents choose to use a retail-based clinic for their child's illness, they should ask if the clinic has a formal relationship with their pediatrician, if the clinic will communicate with the pediatrician about the visit, and what the protocol is for following up if the illness does not resolve or the clinic is closed, Laughlin said.
Parents should consider only using retail-based clinics that have a formal relationship with their child's pediatrician, the statement said.