'Incivility' comes through healthcare's doors every day, Inova CEO says

The healthcare workforce is dealing with challenges that are more severe than they were even two or three years ago, Inova Health CEO J. Stephen Jones, MD, recently told Becker's. 

"Specifically, incivility in society continues to come through our doors every single day," the leader of the Falls Church, Va.-based system said. 

He said that is difficult for people who go into healthcare — whether they are clinicians or work in other capacities — because they tend to be compassionate people who care deeply for patients as well as others with whom they interact. Sometimes those fellow people are coming into their hallways and treating them "with less than respect."

Dr. Jones cited federal data that showed that healthcare workers make up more than three-quarters of all workplace violence victims in the U.S. 

It is an issue around the country. Some systems, including Milford (Mass.) Regional Medical Center and Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center, are adopting patient codes of conduct. The issue is also being taken up in Congress, where bills aimed at protecting workers are receiving growing recognition and support. The proposed legislation, modeled after existing protections for aircraft and airport workers, would criminalize assault or intimidation of hospital employees in the performance of their jobs. It also would authorize grants to reduce the occurrence of such incidents.  

"Three out of four acts of workplace violence happen in an environment where people are actually there to take care of you," Dr. Jones said. "It's mind-boggling to get your head around, but it is our reality. So when I think of top-of-mind [challenges], it's taking care of those who take care of our patients so that they will be there for the long term and stay in this line of work because our friends, neighbors and family need them." 


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