- Mass General Brigham has implemented a system-wide code of conduct for patients, in response to a rise in violent and hostile behavior toward healthcare providers around the country, a spokesperson told Healthcare Dive in an email Friday.
- Under the policy, words and actions that are “disrespectful, racist, discriminatory, hostile or harassing” may be grounds for patients to be asked to make other plans for their care, the hospital system said. For those patients, the option of future non-emergency care may require further review, Mass General Brigham said, adding that it expects such cases to be rare.
- “Just as we strive to provide the best clinical care and experience possible, Mass General Brigham aims to be a safe, welcoming environment for both our patients and our staff,” the spokesperson said.
Injuries from violent attacks on medical professionals have been increasing over the past decade, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates, but aggression against hospital staff appears to have escalated during the pandemic.
Nearly half of the 2,575 hospital nurses in a survey earlier this year by National Nurses United, the country's largest union of registered nurses, reported an increase in workplace violence, more than double the number in the group's March 2021 survey.
Violence against emergency physicians is on the rise, as well. A survey published in September by the American College of Emergency Physicians found eight in 10 of the doctors polled had seen an increase in violence in the workplace.
Mass General Brigham said many U.S. healthcare systems have enacted patient codes of conduct similar to the one it has put in place.
Massachusetts' dominant health system said it had already adopted policies requiring employees and clinicians to treat patients, visitors and each other with courtesy and respect. The new code of conduct extends those expectations to patients, family members, visitors and research participants.
Specifically, the hospital system said it will not tolerate offensive comments about race, accent, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other personal traits; refusal to see a clinician based on personal traits; physical or verbal threats or assaults; sexual or vulgar words or actions; or disrupting another patient’s care.
The code of conduct has been shared with patients and staff, can be viewed on the system's website, and will be posted physically in its hospitals, Mass General Brigham said.
National Nurses United has backed legislation that would require healthcare employers to create comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans. The American Hospital Association, however, opposes the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, preferring that the Justice Department take a tougher stance on violence against healthcare workers.