Are Retail Clinics Dangerous?

retail clinics

It was already 7 years ago that you first saw retail clinics being launched. CVS, Walgreens, and Target were among the first stores to include a retail clinic on their locations. However, when most people saw them, two ideas immediately popped on their minds:

– They should be incredibly profitable

– This is not the right location for a medical service.

Considering that these types of clinics had the advantage of being closer to people since most of us usually go to one of these stores, it also created the question about potential harms and conflicts of interest.

An Overview At Retail Clinics

Most retail clinics that you see on these stores tend to have the goal of urgent care conditions only. In fact, most people who have entered in these clinics at the time were seen by a nurse practitioner. According to this study, there was a huge increase in the number of clinics available in the entire country between 2017 and 2019. The study revealed that there are now more than 1,200 retail clinics.

Should You Rely On a Retail Clinic?

#1: They Are Still Few:

While there was a huge growth in terms of the number of retail clinics available, the truth is that they still take care of a very small number of patients. In addition, it is also interesting to see that these retail clinics tend to be concentrated in specific areas of the country. Florida, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, and California ate the 5 states that have more than 50% of retail clinics.

So, while we could assume that retail clinics would open in locations when the primary care isn’t enough, this doesn’t seem to occur. In fact, it is quite the opposite. These clinics tend to be located in high median incomes areas.

#2: The Types Of Patients Who Visit These Clinics:

According to Rand, the patients who usually turn to these retail clinics are young. In fact, more than 40% are aged between 18 and 44 years old.
In terms of the treatment they look for, it is also different than the one you could expect. More than 90% of these visits are related to respiratory tract infection issues, urinary tract infection, ear infection, and vaccination.

#3: The Costs:

The reality is that most people were right when the first retail clinics started appearing in major stores back in 2012. The costs of treatment tend to be more affordable.


According to our findings, we have no reasons to believe that the care that you are given atone of these retail clinics is inferior to any other medical care elsewhere. However, and while there is no evidence supporting this, it is strange, in our opinion, that this should be done. After all, we may be near a conflict-of-interest between a drug store and a prescriber which can lead to more prescribing without reasons. While this is not happening at the moment (at least that we are aware off), it can happen.

The main benefits of retail clinics include the fact that they are open on weekends and at night, and that the costs tend to be low. In addition, in most retail clinics you shouldn’t need to wait for a long time and you may get to see a physician even without an appointment.