Physicians at a West Coast urgent care chain have voted under the auspices of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists to authorize a strike because they believe they’re forced to work in unsafe conditions. Their complaints are a deficiency in personal protective equipment, combined with long shifts and patient volumes that the doctors say are putting themselves and patients at risk. The company, which operates 27 clinics in California and the state of Washington, imposes 12-hour shifts on physicians and as a matter of policy requires that every patient who walks in the door before closing must be seen that day, regardless of how urgent their presenting complaint is or how close to closing they arrive. One doctor quoted in an article published in the Tacoma News Tribune compared the volume and pace with an assembly line. Of note, the company and the doctors as a group have been trying to negotiate a new contract since late 2019. The particulars of the situation clearly are important to the parties involved, but the larger lesson for the urgent care community is to ensure that every effort is made to provide a safe environment and for both management and staff to communicate regularly. Further, it’s essential that patients are able to walk in the door without worrying about their own safety—lest they rethink their choice to visit your location in the first place.
A Cautionary Tale: ‘Unsafe Working Conditions’ May Prompt Urgent Care Docs to Strike