Richard A. Young, MD
Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Young RA. Comparing Costs and Quality of Care at Retail Clinics With Those of Other Medical Settings. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152:266. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-4-201002160-00020
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(4):266.
TO THE EDITOR:
The outcomes measured by Mehrotra and colleagues (1) show the fundamental weaknesses of retail clinics. Otitis media and pharyngitis are self-limited conditions whose clinical courses are not substantially altered by medical interventions in most cases. Many physicians in other developed countries do not commonly prescribe antibiotics for otitis media (2, 3) or pharyngitis (4).
Many retail clinics display a menu of diagnoses with prices. If a patient truly has one of these conditions, Mehrotra and colleagues successfully showed that the quality of care provided by retail clinics for these conditions is probably reasonable. I have heard stories from persons who have visited these clinics who tell me that no matter what the presenting set of circumstances, the patient will usually be diagnosed with one of the conditions on the menu.
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