Respect staff or seek care elsewhere: Mass General Brigham enacts patient code of conduct

Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham has instituted a patient code of conduct to  protect staff from harrassment and discriminatory behavior, according to a Nov. 4 report from FOX affiliate WFXT

The policy makes clear that "words or actions that are disrespectful, racist, discriminatory, hostile or harrassing" will not be tolerated. The health system said examples of intolerable behavior include offensive comments about a person's race, accent, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other personal traits; refusing to see a clinician or other staff member based on personal traits; physical or verbal threats and assaults; sexual or vulgar words or actions; and disrupting another patient's care or experience. 

"If we believe you have violated the code … you will be given the chance to explain your point of view," Mass General Brigham's code of conduct webpage says. Some violations will result in patients being asked to make plans for future non-emergency care elsewhere, "though we expect this to be rare," the health system said. 

"Just as we have policies for our employees and clinicians to treat each other and every patient and visitor with courtesy and respect, this policy helps to define appropriate behaviors for patients, family members, visitors and research participants," Mass General Brigham said in a statement to WFXT

While other U.S. health systems have similar policies, Mass General Brigham is the first in the state to implement a patient code of conduct, Massachusetts Nurses Association President Katie Murphy, RN, told the news outlet. 

"We're seeing threats of violence. [Patient behavior] has certainly gotten worse since the pandemic," Ms. Murphy said. "People will be shown that there's really a policy and you cannot treat healthcare providers like that."

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