Physicians for Responsible Negotiation, the labor union created by the American Medical Association, has added to its list of clients a small group of emergency physicians in Texas.
The group signed an affiliation agreement last week with a newly chartered labor organization representing 20 doctors who work in the emergency departments at two hospitals in Austin-Seton Medical Center and Seton Northwest Hospital, which together have 527 beds. The doctors are employed by Third Coast Emergency Physicians.
The affiliation marks the PRN's first expansion into the Southwest and the first time the PRN has formed a partnership with an existing, independently established labor organization. It is also the PRN's first labor unit composed of a single medical specialty.
The doctors, who created their own union after voicing concerns about patient care at the two hospitals, chose the PRN as their collective-bargaining agent after studying several labor organizations, said Robert Bernat, M.D., the PRN's executive director.
"It appears that emergency medicine is an area much in need of PRN-type services," Bernat said. "This kind of (trend) can go nationwide."
Separately last week, residents at 653-bed Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York, voted 128-68 to join the Committee of Interns and Residents, a national affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. Last month, residents at 715-bed St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, also voted to join the union.
"Cuts in ancillary staff have put pressure on us residents to perform tasks that take away from our time to provide patient care," said Nick Handanos, M.D., an internal medicine resident at Brooklyn Hospital. The facility is a member of the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System.