Are they safe?

(NBC) When your child gets sick, do you go to the pediatrician or the corner drug store?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should avoid drug store clinics and go to a pediatrician.
They say pediatricians foster a relationship with families over time, and can detect subtle problems that might otherwise be missed.

“We see children from birth through age 21, sometimes older, and so we have an understanding of that child and that family dynamics.”
says Dr. James Laughlin, a pediatrician with Indiana University Health.

Laughlin also wrote The American Academy of Pediatrics newly released policy statement.
This statement reaffirms its long-held stance that doctors specifically trained to care for children, should be the ones treating them.

Drug stores are running commercials promoting the benefits of their clinics.
“Our nurse practitioners provide quality care every day with no appointment necessary and most insurance accepted.” states a television commercial for CVS’S Minute Clinic.

Many parents agree that drug store clinics are convenient, offer extended hours and in some cases, are less expensive than a doctor’s office visit.

A representative for CVS says its Minute Clinics play a complementary role in kids’ health care and do not replace a pediatrician.

In a statement, a Walgreens representative agreed: “We strongly encourage all patients to have a relationship with a primary care physician.”

Pediatricians acknowledge they must meet parents’ busy schedules.

“It is incumbent upon us to be available and to make ourselves more available than probably we used to be.” says Laughlin.

That is good news for parents who know childhood illnesses rarely fit neatly into office hours.

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