Will hospital-employment lead to doc strikes, loss of care?

Hospital-employment means higher reimbursements and more stable schedules for doctors, but it also could lead to the creation of physician labor unions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

That's because with an employed status comes the right to collective bargaining, wrote David J. Leffell, a practicing physician and former CEO of the Yale Medical Group.

Physicians provide a service that can't be outsourced, according to Leffell, and as service workers they can exercise the right to strike to help negotiate staffing, benefits and patient care issues.

The rise of unionized physicians would put more pressure on hospitals already facing strike threats from nursing unions--which, if carried out, lead to extra costs for temporary nurses and added security, as well as patient care disruptions.

Moreover, it's already gotten easier for healthcare workers to unionize, after a decision in the Specialty Healthcare case was overturned in August 2011 and determined that a group of nursing assistants at an Alabama facility could form their own bargaining unit without other types of nursing home staff.

And while the move from private to hospital-owned practices makes it easier to regulate and monitor physicians, Leffell pointed out it may jeopardize access to care: "Office closed, doctors on strike."

To learn more:
- read the WSJ article