The presence of retail medical clinics near hospitals does not reduce the demand for low-acuity services at those hospitals’ emergency room.

iStock_000000522737XSmallOr so reports a new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Contrary to what was expected amid the proliferation of retail medical clinics – there were only a little more than 100 such clinics in 2006 but more than 2000 today – patients are not choosing those clinics instead of hospital ERs for low-acuity medical needs.

An important qualifier is that only about 60 percent of such retail clinics accept Medicaid, but most clinics are located in places with high proportions of privately insured patients and relatively small numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients.  This means that in general, retail clinics are less likely to be located near private safety-net hospitals.

Go here, to the web site of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, to read the article “Association Between the Opening of Retail Clinics and Low-Acuity Emergency Department Visits.”