OSHA complaint leads to severing of a doctor-patient relationship

A mother believes her family’s relationship with a doctor’s office was terminated after she filed an OSHA complaint in August. The mother said she received a letter in the mail this month, discontinuing her children’s care at the Children’s and Adolescents Clinic in Medford, Oregon.

The letter states “it has become obvious that a good physician patient relationship no longer exists.” The mother says doctors weren’t wearing masks and were encouraging patients to take theirs off if they weren’t sick during her visit in August, so she filed an OSHA complaint.

“You know that’s wrong. You’re a pediatricians office and you’re refusing to wear masks to protect your children clients? That just seems really messed up to me,” she said.

The doctor’s office says they were following what they believed was the governor’s guidance at the time. Dr. Sarah Christensen with Children’s and Adolescents Clinic said her office had an extreme shortage of PPE. She said they reserved masks for visits with sick patients. Dr. Christensen also says that Oregon Health Authority guidelines were consistently changing, leading to confusion.

OSHA confirms it does have an open investigation into the pediatrician’s office. “It’s still open but what I can say though, is that it does appear that the employer has responded in an adequate manner,” said Aaron Corvin with OSHA.

Dr. Christensen says once they were made aware that primary care offices needed to require masks, they implemented those policies. Corvin said, “there have been instances where, again I’m speaking generally, but I think its fair to say that there has been education as part of this process.”

The most current OSHA guidance for health care offices was updated July 22. It says all health care offices including primary care, specialty care, and urgent care are required to have and enforce mask policies for people entering the building.

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