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Doctors weigh in on walk-in clinics

January 29, 2007

I read with interest your Jan. 22 article on walk-in clinics ["Bread, Milk -- and a Diagnosis"].

As a physician, I found that your first paragraph strongly reinforced my concerns about the quality of care this type of clinic is providing. Simply put, antibiotics are not indicated for sinusitis unless symptoms have been persistent for more than a couple of weeks.

In this situation, the clinic was catering to a perceived need of the patient ("I want antibiotics now"), rather than considering the long-term health of the patient -- namely that the epidemic of antibiotic over-prescribing for diseases that don't need them is breeding resistant bacteria and ultimately harming the patient and society in general.

I am the first to admit our healthcare system is profoundly dysfunctional, but is this an improvement?

N. WARD NAVIAUX, MD

Bellingham, WA

I am a board-certified primary-care physician practicing for more than 30 years on the East Coast. I believe your article should be entitled "Bread, milk -- and a misdiagnosis, or one that the patient could likely have made without any help."

The relationship between a patient and a competent primary-care physician is one of the most important factors in maintaining a patient's long-term wellness.

"Preventive" medicine is much more important than the "Band-Aid" impersonal type of medicine these walk-in clinics espouse, backed by their entrepreneur ownership.

ALAN LAWIT, MD

Woodbury Heights, N.J.

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