Is the customer always right? The recent lawsuit filed by Tonya Battle against Hurley Medical Center claims supervisors honored a father’s request, and refused to let her take care of his infant because she is African American. This begs the question:  Is the customer always right?

We spoke with a nurse who chose not to be identified. She currently works in the Flint area (not at HMC), and says patients’ requests should be honored.

“The customer is always right, and you do what the customer wants,” she told Cars 108 in a phone interview. “On the other hand, you know [that] discrimination is a horrible thing, but it’s no different than a gentleman requesting that a nurse be female instead of male.”

She went on to say that patients make this type of request all the time.

You know, you have people that request that only female nurses take care of their female family members, they’d rather not have a male nurse. So what’s the difference, just because it’s a black vs. white [issue]?

The nurse we spoke to expressed tremendous praise for Hurley’s nursing staff, but said Battle should have honored the father’s request.

“I know a lot of these nurses at Hurley Medical Center, they’re excellent nurses. They’re excellent at what they do. I can very well see this lady being offended. But step aside, the gentleman has a new baby, it’s all new, he’s going through a lot. Step aside, and let the gentleman have what he wants.”

Although she admits Battle’s hurt feelings were justified, she doesn’t think a lawsuit is warranted, and said Battle could have found plenty of other babies in the neonatal intensive care unit to care for.

“She should have said, ‘I want you to feel comfortable with whomever is taking care of your child,’ because the customer is always right.” She went on to say, “In defense of Hurley Medical Center, if this gentleman had a problem with African American or whatever, Hurley Medical Center is not the place to go. He should have been at McLaren or Genesys.”

Make no mistake, we’re in no way defending the closed-mindedness of the father who made the request. But should patients be allowed to make unusual requests regarding the personnel that provide their healthcare? Should hospitals honor patients' staff requests that are based on sex, age, or sexual orientation, without fear of litigation?

What if a patient doesn't like a staff member for reasons that are personal or inexplicable?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. We reserve the right to remove any comments that we feel are not in compliance with our terms of use.

- George McIntyre
Email George Here
Like Cars 108 on Facebook
Connect with George on Facebook