Tips for Visiting Walk-In Medical Clinics
Walk-in type retail medical clinics are very common entities that are seen as cost effective alternatives to making an appointment with a family physician. Dr. Peter Ubel, a Forbes.com contributor and physician has some tips for you if frequent one of these retail locations.
Ubel says “doc in a box” operations (retail clinics, often staffed with physician assistants or nurses) are suitable for low-level, ordinary treatment for things like poison ivy or a sore throat. When patients go to these clinics, they need later to fully inform their doctors about the care they received. Ubel says that you shouldn’t take referrals to any specialists from the staff at these walk-in clinics. The facilities are OK for patients who are “relatively healthy,” and who don’t have a “complex medical history,” meaning they lack chronic or difficult conditions. Patients with greater challenges need to see their own doctors, regularly if need be.
Uber also stresses the importance of getting detailed medical records from these walk-in clinics. Patients can get many retail clinics to transmit electronic records of their visit to their regular MD. Patients need to at least take this step, and should request that they be given a copy of the “encounter note” to take with them. They can then bring that document to their primary doctor’s office. Many patients assume that the information-advice sheet they get at the end of a clinic visit is all they need. This is wrong. The actual encounter notes are needed, these include information such as history and physical exam information as well as lab values.
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