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Medical Ethics |

Physician StrikesPhysician Strikes

Stephen L. Thompson, PhD; J. Warren Salmon, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (Dr Thompson), National Louis University, Skokie; and the School of Public Health (Dr Salmon), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Stephen L. Thompson, PhD, National Louis University, 5202 Old Orchard Rd, Ste 300, Skokie, IL 60077; e-mail: sthompson@nl.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2014;146(5):1369-1374. doi:10.1378/chest.13-2024
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Throughout medical history, physicians have rarely formed unions and/or carried out strikes. In a profession faced with the turmoil of health reform and increasing pressure to change their practices and lifestyles, will physicians resort to unionization for collective bargaining, and will a strike weapon be used to fight back against the array of corporate and government powers involved in the transformation of the American health-care system? This article examines the question of whether there could be such a thing as an ethical physician strike. Although physicians have not historically used collective bargaining or the strike weapon, the rapidly changing practice environment in the United States might push physicians and other health-care professionals toward unionization. This article considers the ethical questions that would arise if physicians started taking advantage of labor laws, and it lays out criteria for an ethical strike.

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