American Medical Association Goes After Walmart-Style Retail Clinics

The American Medical Association is going after in-store clinics being opened by retail giants such as Walmart and Walgreens, according to the Chicago Tribune. The AMA is concerned about potential conflicts of interest between the nurse-practitioners who prescribe the drugs and the pharmacists who fill them.

“Our primary focus is patient safety and patient care, and the retail clinics have a different mission of selling products and prescriptions,” said Dr. Rodney Osborn, a Peoria anesthesiologist who is president of the Illinois State Medical Society, an AMA delegation among the most outspoken on scrutiny of retail clinics. “We want these clinics to be accountable.”

The AMA says it will advocate for increased regulation of the retail clinics. The clinics usually operate 7 days a week and do not require an appointment. There is usually no doctor on site. Patients are charged about $60, even without health insurance. Some clinics waive a patient’s copay, in a move that doctor’s say encourages consumers to avoid seeing a physician.

Walgreens responded:

“If the AMA is going to push this agenda, they may find that legislators and their constituents have been demanding accessible and affordable health care for years,” said Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin. “And that is exactly what retailers are delivering as a supplement to the primary care physician. As they push back against retail clinics, it would result in higher health-care costs and prevent some patients from receiving care that they are receiving.”

Have you tried these clinics? Were you happy with the level of care you received?

Doctors, retailers square off [Chicago Tribune]