Doctors push law regulating retail clinics

Illinois-based retail clinics may soon find that there are a new set of eyes looking over their shoulder. Retail clinics, which are popping up in Wal-Marts, Walgreen's and CVS/Caremark pharmacies, are usually staffed by advanced-practice nurses and physicians' assistants. While such care is typically supervised by physicians, there are no specific rules as to how that supervision should work. Now, however, the state medical society is fighting to see a measure passed which would set tougher standards for retail clinic operation. Among other things, the Retail Health Care Facility Permit Act would limit doctors to supervising two advanced-practice nurses, and would limit the scope of retail clinic advertising.

The Illinois State Medical Society, which represents more than 13,000 doctors, is arguing that the clinics may not be supervised closely enough to protect patient health. The doctors' group is also lobbying for stronger retail clinic regulation at the federal level. Some observers chalk this initiative up largely to defensiveness, given that physicians stand to lose business to such clinics, but the doctors say that they're only fighting to be sure the clinics offer quality care. Meanwhile, the new measure is strongly opposed by pharmacy and retail industries, both of which could lose money if retail clinic momentum slows.

To get more background on the measure:
- read this piece from the Chicago Tribune