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Pediatric Group: Drug Store Clinics ‘Inappropriate’ for Kids’ Primary Care

Purestock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sheri Swiontek has three children, two jobs and a very busy life. So when her kids get sick, she often takes them to the clinic at her neighborhood drug store.

“When I am jammed with time, our time schedules are tight,” Swiontek of Gurnee, Ill., told ABC News.

She’s not alone.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, says the first retail-based clinic opened in 2000, and as of 2012, there are 6,000 such clinics throughout the country.

But while moms like Swiontek say these clinics provide shorter wait times and lower costs than a doctor’s office, the AAP is advising parents not to use them for primary care.

In a statement released Feb. 24, the AAP calls these clinics “An inappropriate source of primary care,” and says, “These clinics did not provide children with the high-quality, regular preventative health care children need.”

However, the AAP added, “It is understood that the services of these clinics may be used for acute care.”

So if you go to these retail clinics, are you getting substandard care?

“The individual encounter may be fine,” explained Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician in Palo Alto, Calif., “but the important thing is health is not a moment in time. It is a continuum and you are missing out on that connectedness of health.”

The Convenient Care Association, a group representing many of these clinics, says the clinics “are a more convenient option for parents with sick children than the alternative, which is often waiting for an appointment or spending hours in a high-cost emergency room for a minor pediatric complaint.”

The CCA also notes the “Retail clinics work closely with local physicians and pediatricians.”

But Swiontek says sometimes a clinic is the best option for her family. “It’s very convenient for us,” she explained.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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