A mom brings her son to an urgent care center because she’s concerned he could have a sinus infection. It would be the quintessential urgent care presentation that resolved successfully in minutes—if it didn’t become a public relations nightmare for the operator and staff instead. The problem began with what one of the nurses referred to as the facility’s “policy” to not treat patients who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and the fact that the boy was unvaccinated. Presumably his mother was not aware of the policy before bringing him to the urgent care center. Once apprised, however, instead of leaving to go to another facility she started roaming the halls and asking staff for clarification as to why she and her son were being turned away, with cell phone in hand to record her experience. Instead of responding with empathy and calm, rationale discourse that might have diffused the encounter, unfortunately, staff members took a threatening tone that only made the situation worse. And you know what happened next: the video was posted and started making the rounds on Twitter. Reasonable people can agree or disagree about the wisdom or ethics of refusing to treat based on vaccination status, although that issue could be more complicated in the case of children who are too young to get the shot. However, when your staff is seen online appearing to be hostile toward a patient (whether you think the patient is right or wrong) it’s not a good look. And it’s certainly not going to draw new patients to your office. JUCM has published a couple of articles that might be helpful when it comes to making the best of bad encounters with patients. You can read Dealing with Angry Urgent Care Patients and When Can an Urgent Care Legally ‘Fire’ a Patient? in our archive right now.
You’re Right and the Patient Is Wrong? That Won’t Matter When an Unflattering Video Goes Viral