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The Bad Weather Dilemma: What’s Your Policy?

Mar 08, 2014 10:24AM ● By Med Editor

The dilemma of what do about patients and staff when bad weather strikes is one that is all too familiar to physicians on the Northern Plains. It can be a challenge to strike a balance between concerns for the safety of staff members, some of whom may have to travel some distance to the office, and the very real need of patients to be seen.

If they live in the area, it is likely that both the patients and staff members have experience with dangerous driving conditions. Should you trust their judgment  when they conclude that the roads are “impassable”, even if you and other staff members left early and braved their way to the office?

In a recent post on the Physicians Practice website (, New Jersey endocrinologist Melissa Young, MD, related her own experience with being shorthanded because of treacherous weather. Although it had snowed more than 10 inches overnight, Dr. Young made her way to the office to be ready for an 8 a.m. patient. She even cleaned off and sanded the walkway herself. At the same time, a staff member texted to say she would be late because of bad roads and Young asks, “What am I supposed to say? Yes, I want her at the office, but I also want her there is one piece.” 

What is your bad weather policy? When do you tell staff not to come in because of weather conditions when there are still patients on the schedule? How do you weigh what is best for patients with what is best for the practice and safe for the staff?

Share your thoughts with your colleagues in the comments below.