In South Carolina, CVS, Walgreens, and a select few Walmart locations make medical clinics available to customers, offering immediate treatment on a walk-in basis for less than a family doctor would charge. Known as convenient care clinics, these services can be helpful for treating minor illnesses or injuries and getting flu shots, but it is important to follow up with your regular medical provider to ensure medical mistakes and misdiagnosis do not occur.
The Advantages of Convenient Care Clinics
Retail store medical clinics began sprouting up in 2001 as a way of making healthcare less expensive and more easily accessible for consumers. Today, the Convenient Care Association (CCA) states that as many as 35 million patients have received care from more than 2,300 clinics operating in 43 states. Clinics are generally open daily, including nights and weekends when traditional doctors’ offices are closed. These clinics offer patients treatment for common illnesses as well as physicals, health screenings, vaccines, and preventative care.
The Center for Advancing Health (CFAH) states that while retail medical clinics do take appointments, up to 90 percent of the care provided is on a walk-in basis. Young adults and children are among the most common users, and you are not required to bring any medical records to your appointment. A menu of services is generally provided, and you will receive a printout of any treatments you received after your appointment, which can be forwarded to your family physician. The CFAH states that the advantages that convenient care clinics offer include:
- Up-front costs and fees
- 15 minute appointments
- Cash or insurance accepted
- Convenient hours and locations
- Ability to get medical care immediately, without waiting weeks for an appointment
The Downside to Retail Medical Clinics
While convenient care clinics offer financial savings compared to visiting a hospital emergency room or urgent care center, the CFAH states that they do have disadvantages:
- Treatment is generally provided by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, rather than a doctor
- Limited conditions are covered and only certain types of medicines can be prescribed
- Can detract from developing a relationship with a primary care physician
- Due to short consultation times, your health history and any underlying symptoms may be overlooked
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) acknowledges that convenient care clinics may be useful in a limited way, but it warns that using these services regularly could result in fragmented care that jeopardizes your long-term health. The AAFP is particularly against the trend among retail medical clinics towards expanding to cover chronic conditions. These conditions require treatment by an experienced doctor with a thorough knowledge of your medical history to reduce the likelihood of medical errors and misdiagnosis.
Reach Out to Us for Help Today
If you are a victim of a missed diagnosis or suspect a convenient care clinic made a mistake in your treatment, contact our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys today. At the Anastopoulo Law Firm, we can advise you on the best course of action in your case, so you can get the compensation you need to recover.