You’ve probably seen videos of confrontations involving individuals who refuse to wear a face cover where one is required by local regulations or the proprietor to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Urgent care centers are not immune to this phenomenon. The question is, what would your staff do if a patient or family member came in without a mask and refused to comply with requests to put one on? An article just published in Physicians Practice, authored by an attorney who counts medical practices among his client base, recommends a few basic steps, summarize here:

  • Make your policy clear on your website and social media pages. Posting the policy prominently on the front door of your location will help walk-ins understand what’s expected.
  • Have masks available for those who don’t have one but are willing to comply. The notice on your front door should direct mask-less patients to call before entering so a mask can be brought out to them.
  • Patients who refuse to wear a mask should be refused service, but invited to return if they put a face cover on.
  • If a patient becomes belligerent, call the police or facility security if necessary. The article notes that while it may be acceptable to record altercations, posting a video publicly would be a HIPAA violation. It could come in handy if a police investigation follows, however.
  • Ensure your staff understands there is no such thing as a card legitimately excusing patients from wearing a mask for medical reasons.
  • If a patient claims their “lawyer” said they don’t have to comply with COVID-19 safety measures, offer to have that attorney speak with your lawyer. It’s likely no such conversation took place, and that the patient is just trying to bully their way in.

For urgent care-specific insights into handling unruly patients, read Dealing with Angry Urgent Care Patients in the JUCM archive.

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