Increasingly, acute care clinics, which provide preventive services and care for
minor illnesses, are being placed in nonresidential school facilities. Unlike the
nurse’s office, where students are sent so the nurse can call home, these
clinics establish a provider–patient relationship with the students. The
physicians and nurses in the clinic have the same legal responsibilities that
they would have in a private office. If the clinic is part of the school health
program, it is the school doctor’s responsibility. If the clinic is a separate entity,
it must have its own supervising physician.
Physicians overseeing a school clinic should ensure that there are proper
protocols, policies, and procedures for the staff of the clinic just as they would
for any other outreach clinic or physician extender. There should be formal
agreements on the scope of practice within the clinic and provision for
appropriate follow up for problems that go beyond this scope of practice. The
physician should not lose sight of the fact that he or she is assuming all the
responsibilities of the physician– patient relationship for the patients who use
the clinic. This includes the duties of continued treatment and proper referral.