Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Nurses, Lawsuits and H1N1
Only in the United States could a virus like H1N1 bring out the worst in medical politics and greed. We are facing a "pandemic" that requires coordination, communication and the best of medical practice. But what are we getting? Strikes, lawsuits and anything BUT putting patients first!
The strong nursing union, California Nurse Association (CNA), is taking this opportunity to call a strike on three large Catholic hospital chains (including 34 hospitals) throughout California and Nevada. The union bosses say the chief concerns are a lack of protective gear, improper isolation techniques and staffing that requires nurses to work (oh horrors!) 12 hour shifts during the flu crisis.
Although the nurses seem to want to walk out during a pandemic to "protect patients", the nurses in New York and Washington also filed a lawsuit over the idea that they should be required to get the flu vaccine. You can't have it both ways, nurses! You either want protection or you don't.
This is such an obvious smokescreen for contract negotiations, not H1N1 preparedness. Coincidentally, the CNA is in negotiations now with Catholic Healthcare West. How convenient! Since nurses in California already earn more than many physicians, this type of unprofessional bargaining rhetoric is nursing at it's worst!
By the way, most nurses in California hospitals work part time and receive full benefits. At a time when unemployment is at an all time high, nurses are receiving up to 6% pay raises due to union bargaining.
I respect nurses and believe in true collaboration for patient care, but as we prepare for flu season, this type of unprofessional, opportunistic behavior needs to be called out for what it is!
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 9:47 PM