Editorials

The place of walk-in clinics in healthcare systems

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7266.909 (Published 14 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:909

Uncertainty about impact demands careful evaluation and policy making

  1. Brian Hutchison, professor ([email protected])
  1. Departments of Family Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3ZS

    Papers p 928

    Walk-in clinics have existed in Canada since the late 1970s, but the evidence on who uses them and why, and their effectiveness and economic impact, is disconcertingly sparse. Of the nine primary studies cited in a review of walk-in clinics in Canada, published in this issue of the BMJ (p 928), six were surveys of patients attending walk-in clinics, emergency departments, or general practices; one was a review of the clinical records of patients attending an after hours clinic; one surveyed staff informants at walk-in clinics about organisational arrangements and services; and one compared the costs of treatment at walk-in clinics, general practices, and emergency departments using data on fee for service claims from a provincial health insurance plan.1 All but two studies were based on a single walk-in or after hours clinic or on samples of patients drawn from one or a small number of general practices. Most studies provided data from the early 1990s …

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