Retail Clinic Laws and Best Practices

A “retail clinic” is a walk-in medical clinic located in a pharmacy, supermarket, or other retailer. These clinics provide preventive care and treat minor illnesses. Three-fourths of retail clinics are in the Midwest and South, meaning patients in Indiana have probably at least seen one at a CVS, Target, Kroger, or other retailer. While the quality of care at these clinics should be comparable to any other medical provider, this may only be true for certain conditions. Here’s more information about what issues are commonly treated at these clinics and the standards and laws that they must follow.

Who and What Gets Treated at a Retail Clinic?

A 2016 study by RAND Corporation examined all retail clinics in the US. The largest group of patients at retail clinics were adults age 18-44, 43 percent of patients. By comparison, only 23 percent of this age group went to a primary care doctor in 2016. This shows that for many, these retail clinics are an answer to the need for minor care. 90 percent of visits to a retail clinic were for preventive care, or for one of these ten simple issues:

  •     upper respiratory infection
  •     sinus infections (sinusitis)
  •     bronchitis
  •     sore throat
  •     inner ear infections
  •     swimmer’s ear
  •     pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  •     urinary tract infections
  •     need for immunizations
  •     need for blood test

In the RAND study, a group of Minnesota retail clinics actually performed better than their local emergency departments at treating middle ear inflammation, sore throat, and urinary tract infections.

Retail Clinic Standards in Indiana

The State of Indiana does not license retail clinics. This means that individuals with a complaint against the clinic may not be advocated for by the Indiana State Department of Health. However, all employees of the clinics must be appropriately trained and licensed.Retail clinics must also comply with both State and Federal health codes.

Retail clinics are often staffed by non-physician medical practitioners like nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and physician’s assistants. In Indianapolis, Community Health Network has partnered with Walgreens to administer and staff their in-store clinics. This creates a bridge between the retail clinic and a larger health system. But even with that support, the facilities at these clinics may not be adequate to treat a serious illness or injury. In those cases, the caregiver must tell you their limits and refer you to a specialist or emergency room.

During and After a Retail Clinic Visit

If you choose to visit a retail clinic, remember to ask for documentation of your visit to keep on record. This should include your issue, the diagnosis, and a description of the prescribed treatment. That includes any medications or after-care instructions you are given. If your injury or illness gets worse, or it turns out you were misdiagnosed, you will need those records. This will be essential information for any other physicians you work with, as well as an attorney if you suspect negligence was a factor.

Retail clinics have been shown to increase the likelihood that people will seek care for conditions or issues they might otherwise ignore. This brings more people into contact with caregivers than ever before. That means more individuals need to understand these important points and have the ability to self-advocate.

If you or a loved one visited a retail clinic in Indiana and believe negligence played a role in the worsening of your condition, we want to listen to your story. The medical negligence attorneys at Cline Farrell Christie & Lee in Indianapolis prioritize helping you move forward in life with peace of mind. Contact us today to discuss your situation in a free consultation.