The American Medical Association should call for a ban on in-store clinics being opened by retail giants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Walgreen Co., several doctors groups urged at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago on Sunday.
Faced with an onslaught of competition that is forecast to bring several thousand retail health clinics to U.S. consumers, AMA members testified that such clinics are endangering patient care, particularly for children. The doctors say the clinics, largely staffed by advanced-degree nurses and physicians' assistants, are largely unregulated and, therefore, put patients' health at risk.
I have used the Redi-Clinics at Duane Reade and I can tell you MY health was put at risk. I was nearly knocked unconscious by how clean, convenient and excellent the care was. A PA whose previous experience was working at a community health center provided me a flu shot and quick look at my sinuses. She sent a copy of my record via email to me which I shared with my physician. Yeah, a real risk alright.
"There is no more urgent issue than this for the AMA," Dr. Kamran Hashemi, a family physician from South Barrington, said, urging the organization to push for more regulation of retail clinics. "This issue speaks to what all of us do every day in practice." If the AMA does nothing, Hashemi said, "in five years, the chairs [at the AMA] meeting will be filled with representatives from Walgreens, Wal-Mart" and other retail outlets.
It's called competition, Kamran. Get off your chair, change or get out of the way. People in rural areas, who work real jobs, who have sick kids need access to real care in real time, not when it's convenient to doctors who are interested in the status quo. Protectionism is not going to cut it.