After 21 years in military medicine, there isn’t much that rattles Richard Barnett. He was part of the Marine force that invaded Baghdad in 2003, where he intermittently came under enemy fire.But during a 12-hour overnight nursing shift at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Los Angeles, the working conditions became more than he could accept. Ill-fitting masks. Poor sterilization technique. Worst of all, two patients with covid-19 slipped through the screening procedures, exposing health-care workers who treated them without knowing they were infected, he said.At the end of the shift, at 7 a.m. March 15, Barnett quit and turned in his badge.“It was a real obvious choice,” he said. “I either leave before I get sick and possibly get my family sick. Or I leave after I get sick. It was a simple risk versus benefit challenge.”Like Barnett, some health-care workers have begun to resist pressure to work with inadequate protection during the coming tsunami of coronavirus cases. To do so, they must buck the pandemic’s all-hands-on-deck ethos, the medical tradition of accepting elevated risk in a crisis and the threat of discipline from employers.Confrontations and difficult personal decisions are occurring as hospital administrators enforce rationing of masks,


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