Retail medical clinics are faster and cheaper, but they can cause problems for patient care, doctors say

Medical clinics located in retail establishments such as Walgreens and Walmart are becoming increasingly popular, The Courier-Journal’s Laura Ungar reports.

Researching and consulting firm Merchant Medicine lists 40 retail clinics in Kentucky and anticipates more to open in 2011.
The clinics are generally operated by nurse practitioners and are in grocery, drug and department stores. Visits are generally faster and cheaper than going to a traditional doctor’s office. A 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine study noted a typical visit costs an average of $110, compared to $166 in a doctor’s office, $156 in an urgent care center and $570 in an emergency room, Ungar reports.
But some doctors take issue with the clinics, saying physicians provide better care and are more qualified to detect serious medical problems. “There might be something that presents as a minor complaint but is in fact the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Gordon R. Tobin, president of the Kentucky Medical Association. “Physicians have the gold standard in education and training.” (Read more)
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