AAP issues new guidelines for freestanding urgent care facilities

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1. More children are being seen at freestanding urgent care clinics in the United States. 

2. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new recommendations for such facilities including appropriate staffing, emergency preparedness, participating in systems-based practice, establishing scope of care, and supporting the medical home. 

Statement Rundown: As a growing number of children are seen at freestanding urgent care clinics in the United States, the AAP Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine has issued new recommendations to ensure quality and safety of such pediatric care. Freestanding urgent care clinics are defined as specifically designed to provide acute care in a non-hospital setting and do not include retail-based clinics.

The recommendations set forth address five components: appropriate staffing, emergency preparedness, participating in systems-based practice, establishing scope of care, and supporting the medical home. Freestanding urgent care facilities should be prepared to treat minor illnesses with evidence-based practice. In cases of emergency, such clinics should be able to resuscitate, stabilize, and transfer pediatric patients as needed; this means having the trained staff and resources to do so, in addition to integral communication and collaboration with local emergency medical services. The committee recommends establishing individualized scope of practice for each freestanding urgent care clinic, and to have this scope of practice be well known to both providers and patients. Despite the increases in children seen at such freestanding urgent care clinics, these facilities should be a complement to the medical home model and not a substitute for it. As such, freestanding urgent care facilities should seek to provide only acute care, with closed-loop communication from and to the patients’ primary care pediatricians. Appropriate freestanding urgent care clinics have the potential to strengthen delivery of healthcare in communities; these AAP recommendations seek to ensure such healthcare is high quality and safe for children.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: AAP Principles Concerning Retail-Based Clinics

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